Latino Labor Leaders Denounce Wage Violations Against U.S. Workers

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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