Category Archives: WCCNY

Our fight for the protected right to organize continues!

May 10, 2016 Filling of lawsuit in Albany NY

June 19, 2018 ALBANY NY– 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, filed an appeal late Monday in a case challenging a Jim Crow-era New York law that denies farmworkers the right to organize without fear of retaliation. The lawsuit challenges the exclusion of farmworkers from the State Employment Relations Act, which protects the labor rights of virtually all other private sector workers.
Crispin Hernandez was fired from one of New York’s largest dairies,
Marks Farms LLC in Lowville, after his employer saw him meeting with co-workers and an organizer to discuss workplace conditions, even though it was after work hours and in a worker’s home. Hernandez, who had been working 12-hour shifts for six days a week at Mark’s Farms since he was a teenager, lost his job and his home. He filed suit with the support of the two worker centers and the NYCLU to ensure that farmworkers across New York have the same rights as all other workers.
“Today is an important day for farmworkers who have been fighting to be treated justly. Without farmworkers and our labor, New Yorkers wouldn’t have fruits or vegetables to put on their dinner table,” said Mr. Hernandez. “We deserve to be treated like human beings, without fear of retaliation.”
In January, the Albany County Supreme Court granted a motion to dismiss the case. Mr. Hernandez and the two workers centers contend to the appellate division of the Third Department that the exclusion of farmworkers violates the rights to organize, equal protection and due process under the New York Constitution.
“Farmworkers make essential contributions to New York State and to all of our lives. Their labor produces the food, nutrition, and money that sustain our economy and our communities,” said Rebecca Fuentes, lead organizer with the Workers’ Center of Central New York. “It’s a shame the state excludes them from one of our most important protections: the right to collectively bargain without fear.”
Unlike other workers in New York State, farmworkers have long been excluded from the right to organize for better pay, benefits and workplace conditions without fear of retaliation. The State Employment Relations Act, passed in 1937, incorporated the federal New Deal Era-protections for workers into state law. However, in doing so, the state law created a carve-out for farmworkers, the majority of whom were black at the time, that legislators used as a compromise to get the votes of segregationist members of Congress. This exclusion now applies to farmworkers in New York today, who are, for the most part, immigrant workers. This lawsuit seeks to eliminate that carve-out and grant farmworkers the same rights as other workers to advocate for themselves in the workplace.
“Farmworkers whom we depend on to put food on our tables deserve to be treated humanely and with dignity like any other hardworking New Yorker,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “New York must end this outdated, racist policy from the Jim Crow-era, and treat farmworkers fairly and equally.”
Even though farming in New York is a multi-billion dollar industry, farmworkers often earn wages well below the poverty level, and many live in overcrowded labor camps and toil under sweatshop-like conditions. The combination of poverty, isolation, and lack of permanent legal status and language access makes farmworkers among the most exploited groups in the American labor force.
“There is simply no justification for depriving farmworkers of the basic right to organize,” said Carly Fox, an advocate with the Workers Justice Center of New York. “For many decades, each time farmworkers and their allies have advocated for much-needed changes to laws governing their labor rights, the Farm Bureau has used its power and influence to lobby New York lawmakers to preserve the status quo and leave farmworkers in a position of vulnerability. Justice is clearly on the side of the farmworkers, and we will keep fighting until we win full equal rights.”
When the plaintiffs initially filed suit in May of 2016, both the Governor Andrew Cuomo and then Attorney General Eric Schneiderman publicly agreed that excluding farmworkers from the right to organize conflicts with the state constitution. Both declined to defend the lawsuit in court. However, the New York Farm Bureau requested that the court allow it to intervene to defend the law as a party in the case. In January, the State Supreme Court dismissed the case, in a brief opinion that offered little analysis of the core arguments.
“The court ruled that farmworkers do not have a constitutional right to organize, despite the very clear language in the New York Constitution giving all employees the right to organize,” said Erin Beth Harrist, lead counsel and senior staff attorney at the NYCLU. “Allowing this racist exclusion that continues to leave farmworkers unprotected in New York goes against our values and our laws.”
The New York State Attorney General’s office and the New York Farm Bureau are expected to file briefs regarding the appeal in the coming weeks.

Marks Farms fined after fatality

Marks Farms in Lowville NY has been fined nearly $25,000 after a worker died there last November.

On December of 2017 we wrote an op ed to bring attention to the history of disregard for worker’s health and safety and violations of other workers rights at this farm.

The fine it’s in connection with the death of 32 year old Ryan Ouellette. He died while working on Marks Farms just outside Lowville.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, cited the farm for 3 serious violations involving the safe operation and guarding of farm machinery and fined it nearly $25,000.

We demand that Marks Farms is not given any chance to reduce the fines (a common practice known as the “OSHA discount”) and that immediately eliminate any dangerous conditions and provide training and workplace protections to all workers to prevent more fatalities and injustices. All workers deserve safe and healthy conditions to make sure they come back to their families after work.

Another tragedy at Marks Dairy Farm in Lowville, NY

http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news04/marks-farms-worker-dies-from-injuries-suffered-in-farm-accident-20171120

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
Update 2/20/18
HECTOR IS FREE!
Thanks to his lawyer and the community support and organizing, HECTOR IS FREE and back with his family in Syracuse. We had a strong presence in front of the Federal Detention Center and at his bond hearing. Please continue to support the family’s you caring fundraising campaign here

Crispin Awarded “Faith at Work” from Labor Religion Coalition

Nov. 2nd, – Thursday at 11:30
We are very excited and proud to announce that Crispin is receiving an award for his courageous work to improve the working conditions of farmworkers. Labor Religion Coalition of NY has selected him to be part of a group that will receive the “Faith at Work Awards.” If you are interested in joining us for the award ceremony in Albany please email Nikeeta at nslade@workerscentercny.org.

Monthly Greenlight Coalition Call 10/25

Wednesday, October 25 at 11:00am we will have our monthly coalition call. The call is conducted in English. We will report back from the consejo retreat and talk about next year.

El miércoles 25 de octubre a las 11:00am se llevará acabo la llamada mensual de la colación.  La llamada es en inglés.  Vamos a dar un informe del retiro del consejo y hablar del año que viene.

To join with video from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/908728614
Or Telephone:
    Dial: +1 646 558 8656 (US Toll) or +1 646 876 9923 (US Toll)
    Meeting ID: 908 728 614

Como conectarse:

1. Llamar al  +1 646 558 86562.  Marcar clave “908 728 614#”
3. Marcar el signo numeral “#” de nuevo
O para conectarse con video: https://zoom.us/j/908728614

Tell New York State Police STOP Enforcing Immigration!!

Hello friends,

We have written to you all previously about New York State Police enforcing immigration even they though are prohibited from doing so. We nvite you to join us in taking action for a resolution from State Troopers for violating the policy which has lead to immigrant members of ourour community being arrested and thrown into deportation proceedings.  Please take action and fill out the google form so we know you did. Please feel free to forward widely.

New York State Police: Stop Enforcing Immigration!
The Workers’ Center of CNY, Worker Justice Center and others are urging people of conscience to call the Superintendent of the New York State Police, George P. Beach II and Troop E Commander, Major Richard Allen regarding recent violations of the Executive Memorandum: 2014, Immigration Law—Alien Procedures (EM #14-48) This EM states:  “As applied to vehicle passenger- Even when you stop a vehicle containing a passenger who you believe may be an illegal alien, you have no authority to request or demand identification documents from a passenger.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo has gone even further to underscore this by issuing Executive Order 170 which prohibits state agencies and law enforcement officers from inquiring about or disclosing an individual’s immigration status. Unfortunately recent incidents demonstrate that state troopers have in fact violated the EM and newly minted EO, and thus far, there have been no public denunciations of these egregious and flagrant breaches of the policy.

On the morning of June 29, 2017, a yet-unidentified trooper stopped a vehicle in Penn Yan in Canandaigua County, ostensibly because the driver was not wearing a seat belt. Although the officer was not ticketing the passenger, he asked him for identification, which he did not have with him. The trooper let the driver go on his way with a ticket but arrested two Latino passengers and took them to a State Police barracks in Dundee, and held them for immigration officers to assume custody. One passenger has already been deported and the other–a long time community member and father of two–is now facing deportation. This has truly devastated his children and the wider community.

The State government has opened an investigation into this incident. While we applaud them for opening this investigation, we are also demanding that the New York State Police in general, and Troop E in particular be transparent with the public in how they will ensure that the new EO will be enforced and also disclose how offending officers will be held accountable.

Call Details & Script:
Superintendent of New York State Police – George P. Beach
518-457-6721

Troop E Commander Major Richard Allen
585-398-4100

Script:
“Hi my name is ____________  and I am calling from __________________. I am deeply troubled and concerned by a state police officer from troop E’s violation of the Executive Memorandum: 2014, Immigration Law—Alien Procedures (EM #14-48). This policy prohibits state police from asking for the identification from passengers they suspect are undocumented. Unfortunately on June 29th, the Troop E officer breached this policy by asking two Latino passengers for their ID’s and then turning them over to Border Patrol because they didn’t have identification. Now a father of two who’s also a long standing community member is facing deportation which has devastated his family and community. To date, the officer has not been held accountable. Governor Cuomo recently issued an executive order explicitly prohibiting law enforcement asking about immigration status. I’m calling because I want to know what concrete steps the leadership of Troop E will take going forward, to ensure the Executive Memorandum and the newly minted Executive Order will be enforced and how officers will be held accountable when they commit such egregious violations.”

For questions contact Nikeeta Slade from Workers’ Center of CNY at nslade@workerscentercny.org

Please record your results in the online google form.

Dream Act Now: Action Report Back

Strong action yesterday in Syracuse! Members of the Workers’ Center of CNY, United We Dream, CNY Solidarity Coalition, community members, and allies delivered 500+ signatures to Congressman John Katko’s office in support of a Clean Dream Act, DACA, and Undocumented People everywhere. We ran into some opposition from security in the lobby of the Mackenzie Hughes Tower, where we were yelled at from the moment we walked through the door, threatened with police, reminded “the federal government is heavily armed,” and one of our group members was assaulted by building staff. In the end, the general manager escorted three members of our group, including a mother and child, to deliver our petition to Katko’s office.

Dream Act Now! 10/19

When: Thursday, October 19 at 1 PM

Where: Katko’s Office 440 S. Warren

Upstate New York dreamers and allies will stage a rally and press conference to call on Rep. Katko to support a Clean Dream Act
Join United we Dream and Workers’ Center of CNY

Syracuse Rapid Response Team Meeting 10/12

The Syracuse Rapid Response Team will be meeting at the Worker’s Center Thursday, October 12 at 6:30pm.

At the end of September, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted ruthless raids over the course of 4 days, which resulted in over 500 immigrants being rounded up. This specific raid–disgustingly called “Operation Safe Cities”– was specifically targeted towards sanctuary cities. The Trump Administration’s unrelenting attacks on immigrants demonstrates the importance of our Rapid Response Team. Please join us at the next meeting this Thursday. Becoming a member of the Syracuse Rapid Response team is a concrete way you can be in solidarity with immigrant members of our community. Come to the meeting and a bring a friend!

Unidos Puerto Rico 10/8

The Spanish Action League in collaboration with the Latino Professional Social Group and leaders in the community are working together to help the people in Puerto Rico. We will be collecting items and donation to send to the Island.

We will have T-Shirts for sell for $10 and the proceeds will support the relief efforts.

FACEBOOK LINK HERE

WCCNY members made these keychains and we will be donating them to raise funds for the local donations efforts. You can get them at the Spanish Action League this Sunday at their donation event. Check the flyer for location and what to bring to donate .