Climate Change

In this project we are highlighting the experiences of people whose lives are being affected by climate change.


Ariadna Garza speaks to Miguel Sanchez, who has worked in construction for 18 years. He is one of the nearly 700,000 construction workers in Texas at risk from working in extreme weather. Sanchez is a resilient immigrant and the sole supporter of his kids, grandkids and mother in Mexico.

Construction worker vs. the weather: Why one Texan won’t quit

by | Sep 9, 2022

Construction worker vs. the weather

by Ariadna Garza | Next Generation Radio, Texas Newsroom | September 2022

Click here for audio transcript

Sanchez: Yeah. I like to work really hard every day. I have a big family. I have to support my family. I think,uh, like we say in the Spanish, that is my visio, mi visio es el trabajo. Yeah, I like it. I love. 

Sanchez: My family is one thing of my motivation because , I have to work for them, for my grandkids, for my daughter. I have my my mom. So basically, I’m the only person that support to my mom. So there’s a lot of things I have in my mind, thinking you have to work today, because i I have to bills, you know.

Sanchez: Hi, my name’s Miguel Sanchez. I am 52 years old. I work in the construction. I have a lot of experience in the handyman. 

And then Ah I lived here in America for around uh 22 years..22…23 years. I have a remodeling company residential or commercial remodeling. 

[nail gun sound]

Sanchez: Construction is a good good job. I can make some money like if I want I can make ah 400, 500 one day or maybe a little bit more depending. Yeah. It’s a good job. The only thing is all job that have a risk, you know.

Sanchez: The weather affects the job. Well, if we had to work outside, depending if it is raining. We can not work. Or in the in the heat…if it’s really hot, we have to work just a couple of hours. And then basically we don’t. We don’t, work at 100% for that? 

[nail gun sound]

Sanchez: A month ago we was working in Oklahoma and then the heat over there, it was like 114 and then we was working outside, painting outside, installing,uh siding and everything. 114 It was really hot. So we working like a couple hours and then we go to the apartment together.

[saw sound]

Sanchez: I was checking on other houses in Dallas and it was snowing and ice and then that affect my, my, my, my body. And then uh and then I got uh pneumonia. That’s one bad day because we been in home like for three weeks, because uh doctor, say ‘hey you have to stay home. No, go anywhere.’ Yeah. Three weeks.


Sanchez: I uh think that in the future the weather it’s got to be really hard for everybody, especially with uh my grandkids. They got to live a different situation like we live in right now. Yeah. For the weather because it’s really bad. 


Sanchez: I almost ready for retirement. Yeah, I  I I don’t know, because my son, maybe he got to get the company. Probably. I don’t know. Probably. I got to still work like a five or ten more years.

[Talking kids in the background]

Sanchez: I wanna go to Mexico. I love my mom. I uh miss my mom. I love my mom. I have mamitis


Sanchez: Like a last week, I told one of my guy, ‘Hey, I think my mom, she’s proud of me because I because she she made a good man. Smart man. And then they smiled, well, yeah, but I like that. Yeah, I like my job. And then when I when I do something that I never did ohh, I’m happy. 


Flooded streets, 114-degree temperatures and bone-chilling storms: Extreme weather won’t stop Miguel Sanchez from working to support his family. 

Sanchez, 52, has been in the construction field for almost two decades. He does it all – painting, flooring, roofing – and most of that time as his own boss. He founded a company, Escofsan Remodeling, so he didn’t have to answer to anyone.

Sanchez says he works rigorous hours as the sole supporter of his kids, grandchildren and mother in Mexico. They say do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. 

“Like we say in the Spanish, that is my vicio [addiction], mi vicio es el trabajo [work]. Yeah, I like it. I love,” he said.

But “vicios” aren’t always good. Miguel’s love for his job has put him at risk. He’s one of 700,000 construction workers in Texas who deal with extreme weather.. As temperatures rise, the job gets more and more dangerous. The three-year average of worker heat deaths has doubled since the early 1990s, according to an NPR analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Miguel Sanchez carries a ladder across a job site in East Dallas, as he sets up for the day Sept. 5, 2022. 


At one job site this summer, temperatures got up to 114 degrees. Miguel said he and his workers carry around mini fans and coolers, and travel back and forth from the site to a home to cool off. They drink lots of water to stay hydrated. He said he tries to take good care of his workers, but the heat still gets to them. 

You feel like a little bit dizzy and then like your body’s going a little bit slow,” he said. “I don’t know how to describe that, but I’ve never felt like that. That’s what others have told me.”

No matter how tough Miguel is, the risk is real. “Between 1992 and 2016, 285 construction workers died from heat-related causes, more than a third of all U.S. occupational deaths from heat exposure,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sanchez and his son, Carlos Sanchez, right, work on a shed during a hot summer day in Dallas. Carlos says he’s learning everything he needs to know from his father to eventually take over the company. 


But cold weather is also dangerous for construction workers, who may be working on slippery roofs and exposed to the wind.

Miguel knows both extremes. After spending hours painting homes in Dallas one winter, he caught pneumonia and was unable to work for three weeks. He described that as a “bad day at work.” 

I have to support my family. Construction, they said, was a good job. I can make $400 or $500 a day,” he said. “All jobs have risks, you know?”

Sanchez is often heard laughing while working for clients. He says he loves his job.


Miguel recently fell from a ladder and injured his shoulder, but even that doesn’t stop him. The only reason he went to the doctor was because his family insisted on it. If you saw him, you wouldn’t be able to tell he was injured unless you looked closely. When posing for pictures, his face scrunched in pain for a slight second as he picked up his arm. The next second, he wore a genuine bright smile. 

His wife calls him a stubborn man; nothing will stop him. 

“I like my job,” he said. “And then when I do something that I never did, I’m happy.”

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