We’re moving! Please join us at our new website: www.laborjusticecommittee.org
As if the Susaki news weren’t enough, we recently held our Bi-annual Labor Rights and Leadership Training. This training, given by Committee members themselves, gives newer members the knowledge and hopefully confidence they need to be “promotores”. In the model we use, promotores are the ones who call employers, plan vigils, talk to the press, and create effective case strategies that continue escalating the pressure against employers until they pay the wages they owe.
The training, which lasted all day, ended with a interactive role-playing game in which the newly trained promotores acted out a case from beginning (intake interview with a new worker) to middle (creating a case strategy, going to the police, talking to the press, preparing and carrying out a protest) to end (winning unpaid wages!)
Before we left for the day, we had a fantastic discussion regarding what we can do to ensure the Committee continues to grow and move forward in the most effective way possible. We have already started implementing these changes and we’re excited to see where our new (and old) promotores take us!
As we mentioned both here and on our Facebook page, we recently took action against Susaki Lounge for their alleged pattern of unpaid wages. As we hope is clear, the Labor Justice Committee is committed to fighting for worker justice in the El Paso area. As I’m sure you all have seen, Susaki Lounge owes money to at least two members of the Labor Justice Committee. We have seen very strong evidence that makes us believe he owes many Susaki workers and former workers. If this is true, we believe this pattern of wage theft, along with other issues, is worthy of police attention. We have already submitted one member’s case to the police for criminal prosecution. But we need help. We need more Susaki workers to come forward. The only way we can make sure Susaki owner Jose Fernandez faces justice is if workers are willing to talk. Without your voices, without your stories, Susaki Lounge can continue stealing money from workers. If you are owed money by Susaki Lounge, please contact us at 915-209-2551 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(For the original article in Spanish, click here.)
Protesting a Japanese Restaurant for Labor Abuse
El Diario de El Paso | 27-04-2012 | 00:21
Approximately 20 people met yesterday close to Japanese restaurant Susaki Lounge, on the east side, to protest the business’ alleged “appalling and criminal” practices against their workers, specifically lack of wages.
At the protest, Maya Sanchez, Susaki ex-manager, said she would submit a police report asking for her unpaid wages. Around her, members of the Labor Justice Committee stood near Lee Trevino Street and showed their support for Maya with signs asking for a boycott against the Japanese restaurant.
“When I was there, I saw almost all the servers and bartenders get paid less than promised, every single week. The owner, “Joe,” always said he was short on cash and that he would pay them later,” she said. “He has been getting away with this for too long and I know if I sued him or just protested, he would ignore me. That’s why I’m going to the police. They are the only ones who I think he’ll listen to,” she added.
Regarding this, a representative of the Labor Justice Committee said that as of September, the police have said that they will be accepting wage theft cases for criminal prosecution. “We believe this is a strong criminal case. By failing to pay his workers, we believe he’s showing a clear intent to violate the law,” said Lidia Cruz.
In fact, according to research done by the committee, this case is not the first of its kind for the business owner, as, they say, there are multiple judgments against him for unpaid debts.
Sanchez said that she faced indifference when she asked for the wages she was owed. “He didn’t pay attention to me when I went in to ask for my wages, but hopefully this publicity will pressure him to pay me and change the way he runs his business,” she said.
We will be presenting all of our petitions and organizational support letters to City Council on during their meeting on Tuesday, November 29. Remember, even though the District Attorney’s office, the El Paso Police Department, and the El Paso Sheriff’s Office have said they will be starting to prosecute wage theft criminally, not all wage theft cases will be appropriate for criminal prosecution. If we don’t push the City of El Paso to pass a civil ordinance against wage theft, many workers will still have no where to turn to recover their unpaid wages and the epidemic will continue.
Several members of the Coalition met with City Council members last week and received verbal support from several members. Rep. Susie Byrd will be presenting a resolution to the Council on Nov. 29 recognizing wage theft as a problem and committing the City to create local remedies to resolve the problem and we will speak during the public comment period of that resolution.
We are requesting your presence during the City Council meeting to show the City Council just how much the El Paso community is in favor of this ordinance!
What: Presentation of Petitions and Open Letters in support of the ordinance against wage theft
Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Time: 9:00 am
Where: City Council Meeting (2 Civic Center Plaza)
As I hope you all have seen, the District Attorney, the County Attorney, the Sheriff’s Department, and the El Paso Police Department recently announced that they will now be criminally prosecuting wage theft cases!! A big thank you to Senator Jose Rodriguez, Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project (especially Chris Benoit and Tom Power) and Lidia Cruz, member of the Labor Justice Committee for tirelessly pushing for this important step! Because of their work, local law enforcement have agreed to implement the existing laws to criminally charge employers who intentionally don’t pay their workers, punishable by hefty fines and jail time!
But our work isn’t over. As you’ve seen on our site, we’re ALSO pushing for the El Paso City Council to pass a local ordinance against wage theft. In our conversations with law enforcement and the District Attorney’s offices, we have come to realize criminal prosecution will only occur in the most egregious wage theft cases, which means the majority of cases will not be considered appropriate for criminal prosecution. If we don’t push the City of El Paso to pass a civil ordinance against wage theft, many workers will still have no where to turn to recover their unpaid wages and this epidemic will continue.
We ask you to continue signing the petitions so that we can show the El Paso City Council just how much of the El Paso community is demanding change!
For a roundup of the press regarding today’s exciting announcement Read the rest of this entry »
Update – December 1, 2011
The petitions were given to the El Paso City Council on November 29th. Thanks to your help, we were able to give them over 5,000 petitions signed by a broad spectrum of members of the El Paso community!
We are writing today to ask your assistance. As we have mentioned again and again, wage theft in El Paso is an epidemic, but our government is failing us. Very few government organizations exist that can help workers recover unpaid wages and the few that do exist either don’t respond to complaints or don’t have the resources to resolve complaints in a timely fashion.
The Coalition against Wage Theft, a coalition of local organizations, was recently formed to demand that the City of El Paso pass an ordinance against wage theft. This Coalition includes the Labor Justice Committee, Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, Border Network for Human Rights, the Diocese of El Paso, El Paso Building and Construction Trades Council, and Annunciation House, just to include a few.
Cities across the country are passing similar ordinances and it can be done in El Paso too. But we need your support. As we continue trying to convince our City Council members that the acts of unscrupulous employers are not welcome in our community, we are asking you to sign the Coalition against Wage Theft’s petitions (in English and Spanish).
We will be delivering these petitions to the City Council in mid-November. With your signature, we can show the City Council that it’s not just the Labor Justice Committee or the Coalition against Wage Theft that’s fighting against wage theft, but rather that the El Paso community as a whole is demanding that the city take action against this crime wave.
If your organization would like to sign on, please do not hesitate to let us know at email@example.com.
As always, if you are interested in being an active part of these efforts, please let us know! Over the next several months, we will be meeting with El Paso’s elected officials. They need to hear how wage theft and lack of enforcement affects your organization and the people with whom you work.
Finally, keep watching this space for an exciting announcement regarding this year’s National Day of Action Against Wage Theft!