The Labor Justice Committee recently rallied to support Maria Rodriguez*, a Committee member whose ex-employer was refusing to pay her the wages she was owed. Despite the rain and almost freezing temperatures, the Committee held a candlelight vigil outside of the bar where Ms. Rodriguez had worked. This action, one of the many tools the Committee uses to recover unpaid wages, successfully convinced the employer to pay Ms. Rodriguez the wages she was owed.
Ms. Rodriguez’ case demonstrate why the Committee is so important in El Paso. Ms. Rodriguez had been asking to be paid the wages she was owed for over a month, but her ex-employer refused. Ms. Rodriguez came to us for assistance, but even after multiple letters and phone calls, the employer refused to even meet with her former employee. Finally, after waiting for over a month without progress, members of the Committee held a peaceful, silent vigil outside of the bar to pressure the employer to negotiate with Ms. Rodriguez.
The Committee stayed outside the bar for over 45 minutes, explaining to passers-by why they were there. The next morning, the bar owner called the Committee saying she wanted to pay the wages she owed, and Ms. Rodriguez was paid in full the day after. “The bar owner refused to meet with Maria,” said Josefina Torres, another committee member. “She was ignoring her phone calls, and obviously thought she didn’t have to pay the wages Maria earned. That’s why we started the committee – to show employers they can no longer commit these crimes with impunity.” “If it weren’t for the committee,” Ms. Rodriguez said, “I never would have gotten my wages.”