Spotlight Non-profit: Teaching immigrant workers they too have a voice

LatinaLista — One of the consequences of illegal immigration is the subculture of workers that unscrupulous employers have learned how to take advantage of. For example, in the Niagara Falls area of New York last month, an undocumented worker, upset with the contractor who hired him to work on a house and then refused to pay him, got into a fight with the contractor in demanding payment for his work.

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The result was that someone called the police who arrested the undocumented worker, for being in the country illegally, and did nothing to the contractor. It’s presumed the worker was deported — the contractor got free labor.

It’s these kinds of situations — where employers exploit their employees, from not paying them their earnings, denying them benefits or exposing them to risky environments without the proper safety equipment or education — that Jobs with Justice fills a void.

Established in 1987 “with the vision of lifting up workers’ rights struggles as part of a larger campaign for economic and social justice,” Jobs with Justice works in more than 40 cities in 25 states to help workers find their voices and stand up for their rights.

The non-profit organization conducts a number of social justice campaigns on behalf of workers. From fighting for workers’ right to organize and collectively bargain to ensuring community involvement in neighborhood development decisions to fighting for justice for farmworkers, living wages, minimum wage increases and anti-sweatshop conditions, among many other campaigns, Jobs with Justice strives to be a voice for those considered to be voiceless and at the mercy of their employers.

Justice with Jobs strives to impress on all workers that they have rights — even undocumented immigrant workers!

To that end, Jobs with Justice has started a new initiative to train low-wage Latino immigrant workers to help fellow workers recover wages from employers who stiff them — something the Washington Post reports is a growing trend.

One reason why Jobs with Justice is so successful is that for every worker they help, they ask one thing — to sign a pledge and make a simple commitment:

RECOMMIT TO THE ONGOING STRUGGLE FOR A JUST SOCIETY. TAKE THE JOBS WITH JUSTICE PLEDGE:
…standing up for our rights as working people to a decent standard of living.

…supporting the right of all workers to organize and bargain collectively

…fighting for secure family-wage jobs in the face of corporateattacks on working people and our communities

…organizing the unorganized to take aggressive action to secure a better economic future for all of us.<

…mobilizing those already organized to join the fight for jobs with justice.

During the next year, I will be there at least five times for someone else’s fight, as well as my own. If enough of us are there, we’ll all start winning.

 

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