Latino and Immigrant Workers Face Higher Wage Violations than U.S. Born

WASHINGTON, DC – A comprehensive study

surveyed workers in New York, Los

Angeles and Chicago

to look at wage-law violations. The study provides the most thorough

examination of wage-law violations in a decade. The report’s findings highlight

that Latino workers have the highest rates of minimum and overtime wage-law

violations of any racial/ethnic group. In response to these gross violations,

the Department of Labor (DOL) has committed to hiring 250 new labor-law

inspectors to ensure the enforcement of minimum wage, overtime and other laws

and regulations. The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) will

launch anti-wage theft community outreach and education for all our local

chapters throughout the United

States, surveying various cities and pushing

for advocacy at the local and national level. 

The study surveyed 4,387 workers in various

low-wage industries and found that they experienced a 15 percent weekly loss in

pay. Immigrant Latino workers faced the highest minimum wage violation rates at

35.1 percent in comparison to 10.1 percent of their White counterparts. 40

percent of Latina

workers were victims of minimum wage violations in comparison to 24 percent of

Latino men. The highest incidence of these violations occurred among

undocumented workers (37.6 percent) compared to 25.7 percent of documented

workers.  This reality is not unique to New York

(27%), Chicago (26%) and Los Angeles (47%), cities with a high

percentage of Latinos. Wage-law violations are ubiquitous and they highlight

the importance of strengthening the enforcement of federal labor standards as

well as workers’ ability to form unions and bargain collectively.

“Although Latinos and immigrants are more

vulnerable, all workers are at risk of workplace violations. Union

representation can change this by establishing fairness in the workplace. The

passage of the Employee Free

Choice Act (EFCA) is central to restoring policies that will improve the living

conditions of working families. EFCA will allow workers to organize into

unions without the fear of employer retaliation.   We will work with

our national, regional and local LCLAA leaders to protect workers and stop

wage-theft in our communities,” declared Milton Rosado, LCLAA’s National President.

“Wage theft and other workplace violations will increase

throughout the nation if workers continue to lack protection. Enforcement of

the law is crucial in order for workers to stand up for their rights.  EFCA is essential,

but we also need a drastic overhaul of our immigration system with a just and

humane plan that will not undermine workers’ rights as the status quo currently

allows,” stated Yanira Merino, National Immigration Coordinator for the

Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA) and member of LCLAA’s

Executive Board.

“Wage theft is a serious crime and in New York City we have seen several ludicrous

cases of worker exploitation and workplace violations, and clever ways

employers find to evade the law.  We have workers who were made to cash

their checks and return a portion of their money back to the employer.  We

want workers to know that whether you are in the union or not, we will fight

for your rights and bring justice where it’s due.  If you feel your rights

have been violated contact New York

City laborers at 212-465-7965,” added John

Delgado, Business Representative, LiUNA local 79 and LCLAA Executive Board

Member.

With an overtime violation rate of 80 percent

among the workers surveyed, the findings illustrate that immigrants, documented

and undocumented alike, are much more prone to wage violations. “Today we

join Interfaith Worker Justice to call for fairness in the workplace and an end

to workplace violations.  LCLAA is committed to labor law reform and

immigration reform that guarantees labor protections for all workers,” stated

Hector E. Sanchez, LCLAA’s Director of Policy and Research.

The

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, LCLAA is the home of the Latino

Labor Movement. LCLAA is a national Latino organization representing the

interests of over 1.7 million Latino trade unionists throughout the country and

the Common Wealth of Puerto Rico. LCLAA was

founded in 1973 and is America’s

premier national organization for Latino workers and their families. LCLAA

advocates for the rights of all workers seeking justice in the workplace and

their communities. LCLAA is a constituency group representing Latino workers in

both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win Federation. Visit us at www.lclaa.org

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