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Labor's Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

Time to Stop Abuse and Exploitation of Immigrant Workers

by Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

The abuse and exploitation of immigrant workers must stop. Today, the California Labor Federation joined Assemblymember Roger Hernandez, other elected officials and immigrant rights advocates at the Capitol to announce legislative action to stop unscrupulous employers from retaliating against immigrant workers who stand up for themselves.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:

Immigrant workers are often fired, there wages are stolen, they are threatened and they even suffer sexual abuse because unscrupulous employers know they can get away with it. If they speak up, the threat is they will be deported and separated from their families.

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) released a report with stories from all across California that show how routine employer retaliation against immigrant workers has become. The NELP report also includes a list of policy solutions to help guide the California legislature in addressing this widespread problem.

Eunice Cho, staff attorney with NELP:

We’re here today because we know we can do better. We can better protect our immigrant workers by strengthening anti-retaliation laws. We can provide resources to enforce labor laws. We can pass the TRUST Act, which will ensure that workers who have been falsely reported to police don’t end up in deportation. And we can keep raising our voices to support true immigration reform that provides a broad and clear path to citizenship. Together, we can make sure that all of California’s workers and their families can live and work without fear of reprisal.

Assemblymember Hernandez, chair of the Labor and Employment Committee, held a hearing this afternoon so that legislators could hear directly from workers about the abuses they routinely suffer at the hands of unscrupulous employers.  Hernandez, with the support of the California Labor Federation and a broad coalition of labor, immigrant advocates and workers’ rights groups, will introduce AB 263, aimed at curtailing these abuses to ensure immigrant workers are fairly treated on the job.

Assemblymember Hernandez:

Immigrant workers are uniquely vulnerable to violations of labor and employment laws, from minimum wage violations to failure to pay overtime to unsafe and hazardous workplace conditions. Compounding that problem is the added injustice of intimidation and retaliation based on immigration status. Those workers who dare to stand up for their rights on the job are retaliated against by unscrupulous employers who try to use worker immigration status to stifle such efforts.

In the coming weeks, the labor movement in California and around the country will mount a massive campaign to pass comprehensive immigration reform that gives workers a roadmap to citizenship. But we can’t afford to wait for federal reform. It’s time to stop the abuse of immigrant workers now.

Posted on 03/06/2013Permalink

More posts by Steve Smith

Reader Discussion

Saturday, March 16 at 11:00am, join Roofers Local 36 in an informational picket at the home of anti-immigrant scab contractor Paul LaHaye, owner of Prime Waterproofing. LaHaye has retaliated against two of his employees, whom he was cheating on wages and benefits, by turning them in to U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE), after the employees filed a wage complaint against LaHaye with the Southern California Labor Compliance. The SC Labor Compliance in return has filed a retaliation charge against the rat with the National Labor Relations Board. But this attack on workers and their families, as well as against union contractors, must also be met head on to send a message that federal immigration policy must not be manipulated to cover up crooked anti-worker business practices.

Paul LaHaye also contributed to the campaign of Republican senate candidate Carly Fiorina who “supports Arizona’s immigration law”. LaHaye does not mind paying cut rate wages to undocumented workers and thereby underbidding union contractors. He just doesn’t want these workers to exercise their rights to file grievances against him. An injury to one is an injury to all!

By cheating his workers LaHaye can afford to live in the well-heeled “Summit of Anaheim Hills” next to Ronald Reagan park, in the “largest lot in the neighborhood,” which he purchased in 2005 for $720,000, with a ” Panoramic View!!! Large usable lot size of 13,055 sq ft. Awesome backyard to entertain your guests and enjoy your gazebo viewing the hills & canyons.”

Saturday, March 16 at 11:00am, join us in an informational picket/media event to expose Mr. LaHaye to his neighbors and to the media exactly how he makes his money by super-exploiting immigrant workers and attempting to hide behind U.S. immigration enforcement policy. Let this be a message to any other crooked company owners that attacking workers and their families, and undermining union shops comes with consequences. Please RSVP as soon as possible and we will provide the location. THIS WILL BE A DISCIPLINED, WELL-ORDERED PICKET. NO DISRUPTIONS OF ANY KIND WILL BE TOLERATED. ONLY DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVES WILL ADDRESS THE MEDIA &C. WE WILL ARRIVE, MAKE OUR POINT, AND LEAVE.

at 3:10 pm on Wed, Mar 13, 2013Posted by Cliff Smith, Business Manager, Roofers Local 36

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