We Will Keep Pushing To Be Treated Like Human Beings!

Worker’s Center of CNY – Contact: Rebecca Fuentes 315.657.6799 rfuentes@workerscentercny.org

Worker Justice Center of NY – Contact: Carly Fox 518.500.9409    cfox@wjcny.org

 

Court Rules Against Organizing Rights for Farmworkers, Advocates Plan Appeal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 16, 2018 – The Albany County Supreme Court today dismissed a challenge to a Jim Crow-era state law that denies farmworkers the right to organize without fear of retaliation. Plaintiffs Crispin Hernandez, the Workers’ Center of Central New York and the Worker Justice Center of New York, who are represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union, plan to appeal the decision.

Under the New York Constitution, all workers have a right to organize and collectively bargain. Yet a more than 80-year-old law known as the Employment Relations Act includes a carve-out from these protections for farmworkers. The law reflects the segregationist politics of the Depression Era during which it was passed, when farmworkers were predominantly black.

Plaintiff Crispin Hernandez was fired from one of New York’s largest dairies, Marks Farms LLC in Lowville, after his employer saw him meeting with coworkers and an organizer to discuss workplace conditions. The meeting took place after work hours and in a worker’s personal residence. Hernandez had been working 12-hour shifts six days a week at Mark’s Farms since he was a teenager, but he lost both his job and his home.

When the plaintiffs filed suit in May of 2016, both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman publicly agreed that the excluding farmworkers from the right to organize conflicts with the state constitution. Both declined to defend the lawsuit in court. In response, the New York Farm Bureau requested that the court allow it to intervene to defend the law as a party in the case. The plaintiffs and the NYCLU did not object to the Farm Bureau’s motion to intervene, allowing the matter to be resolved in the state courts.

“I am disappointed with today’s decision, but we will continue fighting for a victory,” said plaintiff Crispin Hernandez. “With the help of God and all of our supporters, we will change the conditions that we deal with as farmworkers and we will keep pushing to be treated like human beings.”

“It’s a shame that the judge has decided to continue the Jim Crow era exclusion of Farmworkers from the protected right to organize,” said Rebecca Fuentes, lead organizer at the Workers’ Center of Central New York, a plaintiff in the case. “Today’s decision is a slap in the face for workers like Crispin Hernandez who have to live under threat and intimidation from employers and law enforcement.”

Farming is a multi-billion-dollar industry in New York, yet farmworkers often earn wages well below the poverty level. Many live in overcrowded labor camps with sweatshop-like conditions, contending with infestations of rats, cockroaches and bed bugs, and no regular access to transportation. Farmworkers are excluded from workplace protections afforded to nearly all other workers, including a day of rest, overtime pay, disability insurance and the right to organize without retaliation.

Farmworkers operate dangerous machinery at grueling rates and use toxic chemicals, often without enough training. Their fatality rate is 20 times that of the average worker in New York. Some report working 95 hours a week. Most are racial minorities who do not speak English, and as many as 75 percent are undocumented, a fact supervisors use to intimidate them into silence.

“While we are disappointed with Judge McNally’s ruling today, we are steadfast in our resolve to continue our fight through the courts,” said Carly Fox, senior worker Rights Advocate at the Worker Justice Center of New York, a plaintiff in the case. “We know that, ultimately, we stand on the side of justice and we won’t stop until we win, simply because the workers we serve are depending on it. When we are out in the field, hearing from farmworkers about the dangerous conditions on farms, depressed wages, grueling hours and unsanitary and sub-standard employer-provided housing, we know that the best resource workers have is their unity. The Worker Justice Center of New York will fight for equality for farmworkers until it is won.”

“Because of an outdated law, the people we rely on for the food in our kitchens are condemned to poverty, abuse and even death,” said NYCLU senior staff attorney and lead counsel on the case Erin Beth Harrist. “We will appeal this ruling and continue to fight this law, which violates our constitution and our state’s commitment to human rights.”

“We will not rest until farmworkers are free to organize and have a voice in their working conditions,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Today’s decision will not deter us from making sure that farmworkers enjoy the same basic rights as every other hardworking New Yorker.”

In addition to Harrist, NYCLU staff on the case include Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg, associate legal director Christopher Dunn, staff attorney Jordan Wells, staff attorney Aadhithi Padmanabhan, and paralegal Andrea Barrientos.

Keep Telling Democrats that it’s time to FIGHT for Dreamers!!

In December, Senate Democrats passed up TWO big chances to use their leverage to pass a clean DREAM Act by withholding their votes on a pair of spending bills. Sen. Gillibrand stood strong and withheld her vote, but Sen. Schumer did not. (More details here.) In 2018, there are no more excuses. The next spending bill vote is January 19. Please call Sen. Schumer today and urge him to withhold his vote for the spending bill unless it includes a clean DREAM Act. Sen. Schumer is at 202-224-6542 or 315-423-5471.

Support Hector!!!

Meeting, this Wednesday 01/10 at 6:30pm so we can create an action plan for next steps in Hector’s campaign. We have been in contact with lawyers to find out when Hector will have his court date (no word yet), we are currently working with United We Dream to create and circulate a petition to get Hector out of detention, and continuing to support Arely and the kids. We will have more details about all of this and more at the meeting so please let write me back and let me know if you can make this urgent and important meeting.

Some of you have asked about the letters of support.  We know many of you have have had few interactions with Hector, but you can talk on your letter about Arely and your support for her family which includes Hector. Hector has been a source of strength and support for Arely on her own immigration case. Both of them have complied with everything ICE has asked of them. Hector case was administratively closed on January 2017, so his detention was totally unexpected and devastating for their three US children who live in Syracuse and their two children who are in Guatemala. Hector has volunteer his time at the Workers Center in events like our yearly soccer tournament and workers rights trainings. He likes to play with his children and spend time with his family as much as possible.

Attached are two letters that Hector and Arely’s children wrote recently about how they feel after he was detained. You can see on the drawing how this is affecting the children. If you can write on your letter something about this, on how this separation is affecting their children that will help a lot. You can also say your are willing to continue to help once he is released, with rides, food, etc. We want to show the judge that Hector and his family have support and are part of the community.

FYI, Hector does not have any criminal record and the only thing he is accused of is of working without documents to support his family.

He has lived in Syracuse since 2008.

Here are the guidelines for the letter:

1. Introduce yourself to the judge and explain the relationship to Hector
2. Explain Hector’s good qualities and stress his dedication to his family and community, the fact that he is trustworthy, etc.
3. If you are willing, write if you could help with room and board in case it was necessary after Hector is out on bond.
The WCCNY is collecting the letters, please sign it and also make a copy of any ID you feel comfortable sharing with the judge.
Sign your letter and bring it tomorrow, along with a copy (or we can make the copy at the center) of your ID.  We need as many letters as possible.
Please also continue writing letters of solidarity and support to Hector personally. He got a letter recently from Ann and Ed and he really appreciated!
This is his mailing address in Batavia:
Hector Navarro Miranda
A205-021-464

Update on Detained WCCNY Member, Hector & How You Can Support!

Today, a longtime Syracuse community member, husband, father,  worker, and Workers’ Center of CNY, member Hector Navarro was detained by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) outside of his home after taking his wife Arely, to work. He was taken to and detained at the immigration office at 401 S. Salina Street (which is right behind Katko’s downtown office) this morning. The Syracuse Rapid Response Team and the Workers’ Center of CNY held a protest outside demanding Hector be freed and to speak out against this grave injustice. It is completely and utterly unconscionable that this barbaric and unjust immigration system will be keeping Hector away from his wife, Arely, and their three kids on Christmas. This is a double blow as their family has already been rocked by Arely’s fight against deportation as well. Below are a few immediate concrete steps you can take to be in solidarity with Hector and Arely at this time:

  • Donate to their YouCaring Fundraiser Page

Arely is still accepting donations through her YouCaring fundraising page for her legal fees and now for basic necessities for her family as her husband, Hector was the primary wage earner for their family. Please donate

  • Tell Katko Hector’s Story and Why We Need a CLEAN Dream Act

Hector was detained at the immigration office at 401 S. Salina Street (which is right behind Katko’s downtown Syracuse office) this morning.This horrific incident, tearing away fathers from their families just a few days before Christmas demonstrates why we are calling on Katko to push for a CLEAN Dream Act. More immigration agents and more border enforcement mean that more parents, like Hector will be ruthlessly torn away from their families and communities. When you call Katko, please tell him about Hector’s story and tell him we need a clean DREAM Act now!  Call details are here!

***Katko Action Rescheduled to Jan. 3rd***
Also please join us on January 3rd canvass John Katko’s neighborhood and tell him we need a clean DREAM Act.

  • Donate Money & Gift Cards for Hector and Arely’s Kids

Lastly, we will be taking donations for Christmas gifts for Hector and Arely’s 3 amazing kids. They have a young son who’s six years old and two daughters who are nine and eleven years old. This is certainly going to be a difficult Christmas for the kids, so we want to gather donations as a small show of solidarity with them for the holidays. Please drop off your donation at the Workers’ Center sometime this evening or tomorrow. If you’d like to donate email Nikeeta at nslade@workerscentercny.org.

We will continue fighting this cruel and inhumane immigration system. No more deportations.

Solidarity,

WCCNY

UPDATE 1/02/18

We have been in contact with lawyers to find out when Hector will have his court date (no word yet), we are currently working with United We Dream to create and circulate a petition to get Hector out of detention, and continuing to support Arely and the kids. We will have more details about all of this and more at the meeting so please let write me back and let me know if you can make this urgent and important meeting.
We are also encouraging people to write and send letters to Hector. Support is so important in times like these to remind Hector that he is not alone and there are lots of people in the community that are in solidarity with him. Please send letters to:
Hector Navarro Miranda
A205-021-464
Also Alrey and the kids are urgent need of some winter boots. Sizes are below.
Boots:
Lisania – size 6
Karen – size 6
Jesus – size 3
Arely – size 7
Please let us know if you are able to help help with the boots.
Some of you have asked about the letters of support.
UPDATE 1/10/18
We know many of you have have had few interactions with Hector, but you can talk on your letter about Arely and your support for her family which includes Hector. Hector has been a source of strength and support for Arely on her own immigration case. Both of them have complied with everything ICE has asked of them. Hector case was administratively closed on January 2017, so his detention was totally unexpected and devastating for their three US children who live in Syracuse and their two children who are in Guatemala. Hector has volunteer his time at the Workers Center in events like our yearly soccer tournament and workers rights trainings. He likes to play with his children and spend time with his family as much as possible.
Attached are two letters that Hector and Arely’s children wrote recently about how they feel after he was detained. You can see on the drawing how this is affecting the children. If you can write on your letter something about this, on how this separation is affecting their children that will help a lot. You can also say your are willing to continue to help once he is released, with rides, food, etc. We want to show the judge that Hector and his family have support and are part of the community.
 FYI, Hector does not have any criminal record and the only thing he is accused of is of working without documents to support his family.
He has lived in Syracuse since 2008.
here are the guidelines for the letter:
1. Introduce yourself to the judge and explain the relationship to Hector
2. Explain Hector’s good qualities and stress his dedication to his family and community, the fact that he is trustworthy, etc.
3. If you are willing, write if you could help with room and board in case it was necessary after Hector is out on bond.
 
The WCCNY is collecting the letters, please sign it and also make a copy of any ID you feel comfortable sharing with the judge.
Sign your letter and bring it tomorrow, along with a copy (or we can make the copy at the center) of your ID.  We need as many letters as possible.
Please also continue writing letters of solidarity and support to Hector personally. He got a letter recently from Ann and Ed and he really appreciated!
This is his mailing address in Batavia:
Hector Navarro Miranda
A205-021-464

Donate Money & Gift Cards for Hector and Arely’s Kids!!!

We will be taking donations for Christmas gifts for Hector and Arely’s 3 amazing kids. They have a young son who’s six years old and two daughters who are nine and eleven years old. This is certainly going to be a difficult Christmas for the kids, so we want to gather donations as a small show of solidarity with them for the holidays. Please drop off your donation at the Workers’ Center sometime this evening or tomorrow. If you’d like to donate email Nikeeta at nslade@workerscentercny.org.

Tell Katko Hector’s Story & Tell Him We Need a CLEAN Dream Act!!!!!

Hector was detained at the immigration office at 401 S. Salina Street (which is right behind Katko’s downtown Syracuse office) this morning.This horrific incident, tearing away fathers from their families just a few days before Christmas demonstrates why we are calling on Katko to push for a CLEAN Dream Act. More immigration agents and more border enforcement mean that more parents, like Hector will be ruthlessly torn away from their families and communities. When you call Katko, please tell him about Hector’s story and tell him we need a clean DREAM Act now!  Call details are here!

Tamales Sale to Support Arely!!!!

Tamale Sale to Support Arely!

Background
Our friend Arely Tomas, member of the Workers’ Center of Central New York, mother, advocate for social justice, and friend, is selling homemade delicious tamales to raise legal funds to fight deportation so she can stay with her family. Since the beginning of the year, Arely has had to regularly attend “check ins” with Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE). These check-ins have been deeply harrowing for Arely and her family, especially her three young children. Arely is about $800 from her $7000 goal to pay necessary legal expenses so she can stay with her family. Please support this important fundraiser. By supporting Arely, you are sending a strong message that we truly support immigrant members of our community.

Details:
Place your order in the form below.

Pick Up Information:
When: Friday, Dec. 22nd between 3:30pm-6:00pm
Where: Workers’ Center of CNY – 2013 E. Genesee Street Syracuse, NY 13210.
If you are not able to pick up at this time send an email to Nikeeta at nslade@workerscentercny.org to schedule another pick up date and time.

Payment:
Arely will be accepting cash, check, and Venmo payments her user name is @syrtacos.

Enjoy your tamales and thanks for your solidarity and support!

Update: Community Member Hector Navarro Detained By ICE 12/21

We are very sad to inform that a dear friend of ours, Arely’s husband Hector has been detained by ICE. He was coming back from dropping off Arely at work and two cars block him and took him. The father of three children and a hardworking person, this is an injustice. So close to Christmas, why ICE? We are asking people to go in front of 401 south Salina in Syracuse, where ICE most likely has him detained to rally and demand they let him go

Hector UPDATE: Thank you all for coming out. We have received word that our compañero, Hector is now being held at the detention facility in Batavia. We have left 401 S. Salina and we are working on next steps and Hector, Arely, and their 3 kids will need lots of support and solidarity (we will have details soon). Arely, Hector’s wife, is still raising funds for her own legal fees to fight deportation! Please support Hector, Arely, and their kids right now by donating and sharing this fundraising campaign.

https://www.youcaring.com/arelytomas-804962

 

Call and Tell Katko: Keep Your Promise! Tell Congress to Pass CLEAN Dream Act by end of the Year!

Join the New York Immigration Coalition, the Workers’ Center of CNY, and all other people of conscience who are demanding that our elected officials include the Clean Dream Act in the spending budget before going home for the holidays this Friday, December 22nd. Just two weeks ago, on December 5th, Congressman John Katko (R) signed a letter with 33 other Republican legislators addressed to Senator Paul Ryan calling for a permanent legislative solution for DACA by the end of this year. In these last few days before the session ends, we want to drive calls to Katko to remind him to keep this critical promise to pass a CLEAN Dream Act before the holidays. The same way that legislators like Katko will surely look forward to being with their loved ones, it’s time they ensure that young undocumented immigrants can also be reassured that they will spend this holiday and many future holidays with their families.

Letter Congressman John Katko signed to Support DACA: https://rodneydavis.house.gov/uploadedfiles/20171205110110668.pdf

Call-In Information:
Congressman John Katko’s Offices. Please be sure to call your regional office and the D.C. office to make sure that Katko clearly receives the message! We are asking that you all make calls on Wednesday, Dec. 20th and Thursday, December 21st anytime during open business hours (9am-4:45pm).

Washington D.C. Office
(202) 225-3701

Regional District Offices:
Syracuse & Oswego, NY District Office
(315) 423-5657

Auburn & Lyons, NY Regional Office
Phone: (315) 253-4068

Oswego, NY Regional Office
315-423-5657

Script:
“Hi, my name is XXX and I live in CITY/ZIP. I am calling to thank Congressman Katko for supporting signing Taylor letter to protect DACA recipients, and to make sure they know it is absolutely critical Republicans take the lead in ensuring Congress passes legislation to protect our immigrant brothers and sisters before the end of the year. Now that DACA has ended, we need a solution urgently, and we are counting on Republicans to show leadership in working across the aisle to reach a deal before going home for the holidays. Without legislation like a CLEAN Dream Act passed with NO concessions, dollars in the federal budget will be used to deport DACA recipients. Will MEMBER/SENATOR keep their promise to do everything they can to ensure a solution for Dreamers by the end of the year, and communicating this priority to Leadership?”

No Dream, No deal! Last push for a Clean Dream Act!

Friday December 22 from 12-1pm meet at the Worker’s center

Let’s canvass Katko’s neighborhood!

Now that DACA has ended, we need a solution urgently, and we are demanding that our elected officials include the Clean Dream Act in the spending budget before going home for the holidays.
It is absolutely critical that Congress passes a Clean Dream Act! Let’s ask Katko to keep his promise to ensure a solution for our undocumented brothers and sisters by the end of the year.

We will meet at the WCCNY office and drive to Camilus together to drop off some lawn signs!!

Also be sure to call Katko’s D.C. and regional offices Wednesday, Dec. 20th, and Thursday, Dec. 21st to tell him to keep his promise to ensure that a CLEAN Dream Act is passed by the end of the year. Sign up for a time to call here:https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf_lzCNKdOWe_Pbd2wSCSxWK4-srhMHo6hHoMlPWOBijcJbkw/viewform