Recent Victories!

As the below Diario article mentions, the Labor Justice Committee has already had multiple victories!  Our most recent victories were for a construction worker who wasn’t paid for two days of work, and for a restaurant worker who was receiving less than minimum wage.  As we move forward with more cases we are showing employers that no one is above the law!

Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project and the Labor Justice Committee win at least 5 worker rights cases

Alberto Ponce de León
El Diario de El Paso

(Read the Spanish version here!)

At least five El Paso workers, the majority of whom are undocumented, have won labor disputes against their ex–employers through negotiations with the help of Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project, said the labor justice advocate with the organization, Chris Benoit.

The recovered money for each employee, just during the short time the organization has been taking labor cases, has been between $200 and $1,500, he affirmed. In one of the successful cases, says Benoit, two workers that worked for the same company won a settlement of $8,000, although that hasn’t been paid in full yet.

“We’ve won five or six cases since August 24th, when we started,” he said. “The majority have involved the non-payment of wages, but there has been a mix, because some of them were also receiving less than minimum wage.”

The workers include domestic workers, who regularly cross the border between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso to work in homes where they are mistreated or receive payments that violate labor laws, said the organization’s specialist on labor laws.

At least five El Paso workers, the majority of whom are undocumented, have won labor disputes against their ex–employers through negotiations with the help of Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project, said the labor justice advocate with the organization, Chris Benoit.

The recovered money for each employee, just during the short time the organization has been taking labor cases, has been between $200 and $1,500, he affirmed. In one of the successful cases, says Benoit, two workers that worked for the same company won a settlement of $8,000, although that hasn’t been paid in full yet.

“We’ve won five or six cases since August 24th, when we started,” he said. “The majority have involved the non-payment of wages, but there has been a mix, because some of them were also receiving less than minimum wage.”

The workers include domestic workers, who regularly cross the border between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso to work in homes where they are mistreated or receive payments that violate labor laws, said the organization’s specialist on labor laws.

Benoit clarified that for their organization, the worker’s immigration status is irrelevant, as their labor rights are the same as any citizen.

Paso Del Norte Civil Rights Project started the Economic Justice Program this summer to help workers who have seen workplace violations while working in the United States.

Every worker, regardless of migratory status, has the right to receive minimum wage in Texas for their work, he assured.

According to the organization, volunteers have been given a legal training and now take charge of each case. The group works by putting pressure on ex-employers to obtain the just wages that they have refused to pay the worker.

Every meeting there are more people who are interested in participating in the organization’s sessions, as a majority of workers don’t know their labor rights, he added. Several cases are reported by local workers are under investigation.

In fact, after not being able to reach an agreement in one of their cases, volunteers from the Economic Justice Program will hold a candlelight vigil next Monday in front of the house of one of the ex-employers.

“The purpose is not just to win individual cases, but to start to raise the profile of wage theft here,” he said. “We are trying to promote the idea that it’s not always necessary to hire a lawyer, but that successful negotiations can also occur with just mutual aid.

Under federal law, a domestic worker should receive at least $290 a week for 40 hours of work, explained Benoit.

“Many employers say they have made agreements and that ‘the worker agreed to receive this amount of money.’ We tell them that they can’t make contracts that violate the law,” he added.

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