Tag Archives: WCCNY

Work for Tips? Testify to End Tipped Wage

The Workers’ Center of Central NY is excited to hear of the NYS Dept of Labor Wage Board Hearings across New York on potentially ELIMINATING the sub-minimum wage for those who work for tips throughout the State.

The proposal would not eliminate tipping itself, rather the tipped wage.

One of the first hearings will be held in Syracuse on Monday, April 30th, at 10 a.m. [A rally and news conference will begin at 8:45 a.m.] The WCCNY along with the Tompkins County Workers Center intends to turn out in force to this hearing, ESPECIALLY with workers who presently receive the tipped minimum wage, as well as with workers who PREVIOUSLY have worked in a tipped profession. Believe us: if we and you don’t testify, industry sure will.

Read more about why the restaurant industry’s two-tiered wage system is broken. From the One Fair Wage Campaign:

Due to the lobbying power of the National Restaurant Association and Fortune 500 restaurant corporations, the restaurant industry is one of the only industries that gets away, in 43 states, with not paying the great majority of people who work in restaurants — servers, bussers, hosts, bartenders — at least the minimum wage.

  • Since the restaurant industry does not pay its servers the minimum wage, servers are forced to rely on tips as their wage. Their employer gives them as little as $2.13 an hour (the federal tipped minimum wage since 1991), and then takes out taxes. This leaves them with $0 paychecks, obviously insufficient to pay rent or put food on the table for their families.
  • Although employers are legally required to “top off” the pay of a person who works for tips if don’t add up to at least the minimum wage, enforcement is so lax and disorganized that wage theft has reached epidemic levels.
  • The restaurant industry includes 7 of the 10 lowest paying jobs in the country. In fact, people who work in the industry are twice as likely to need food stamps than the rest of the US workforce, and three times as likely to live in poverty.
  • Seventy percent of people who work in the restaurant industry are women. Since a living base wage is not guaranteed, and women are instead forced to depend on tips, they frequently have to put up with sexual harassment from customers, co-workers, and management. The EEOC has targeted the restaurant industry as the single largest source of sexual harassment charges filed by women with a rate FIVE TIMES higher than any other industry.

Please send us an email at wccny@workerscentercny.org if you would like to take part in the hearing. Facebook event page here
You can also call 315-218-5708

For other hearings dates and locations click here .

 

 

Farmworker Solidarity Housing Meeting 2/25

This Sunday 2/25, we are going to have a meeting with worker leaders and we would also like to invite you all to discuss and a plan an event we are doing on March 8th in honor of the International Women’s Day. We would like to do a panel with some of our amazing women worker leaders to talk about the organizing we have been doing to protect and defend immigrants and farmworkers and we specifically want to highlight just how crucial and important it has been to have Slocum House as a resource to support that organizing. We will also share some updates with you all about Slocum and the local sanctuary coalition The meeting will be from 3-5 on Sunday at the Workers’ Center and there will be food, but bring a dish if you’d like. Please email Nikeeta Slade nslade@workerscentercny.org to let me know if you are able to attend the meeting. Thanks and look forward to seeing you all soon.

Rally for Dignified Living and Working Conditions!!!

Thanks so much for the outpouring of support. We are very happy to report that many Auburn community members in general and members of the Westminster Presbyterian Church have mobilized to provide the families with housing and financial. If you would like to support the family and find out what else they need, please contact the pastor Patrick Heery at pastor@westminsterauburn.org. Thanks so much to them and to so many of you for reaching out to your networks and working quickly to help provide support and solidarity with the families.  We invite you to join us in an action tomorrow at the farm to highlight the unjust and undiginified living and housing conditions and to demand justice.

Join us at the action tomorrow:

Rally for Dignified Living and Working Conditions
Friday, February 16th at 10:15am
3815 Melrose Road Auburn, NY 13021

Some of us will be leaving from the center at 9:00am to arrive a little earlier so if you would like to carpool with us, if you have any questions, or if you will be attending (even if you have your own transportation) please email Nikeeta at nslade@workerscny.org.  

Thank you all again so much for all of the support and solidarity!

WCCNY

EMERGENCY ALERT: Evicted Farmworkers Need Housing in Auburn ASAP!

Hello friends,

Two families who worked and lived at Melrose Farm in Auburn New York are in need of housing. They lost their employer provided housing because it was in such a horrific, dangerous, and in uninhabitable state, that code enforcement just condemned it, leaving 5 children and two mothers without a place to live. The employer has received numerous warnings and requests from code enforcement and from workers to address the housing and unfortunately, rather than do so, he has chosen to be negligent which has forced the families into homelessness. The employer has told workers to stop inviting and speaking to two ESL teachers who have been supporting them with the housing and raising the fact that the workers are being sub minimum wages which is of course illegal. This violates the opinion and guidelines from the Attorney General’s office that says that farmworkers are permitted to have visitors as they choose. Essentially, the employer wants workers to not be empowered to know their rights and to take action to address the injustices on the farm.

We are reaching out to you all to see if you could reach out to your networks in Auburn to see if there are community members that could provide emergency housing for the 5 children and, 2 mothers. The fathers have found work in Auburn, and their new job provides housing for them, but not for their families. Also, the children have just enrolled in school, so to make sure their education and lives are not interrupted, the families need to stay in Auburn.

In addition to the housing needs, we are also in the process of planning an action today (or at the latest tomorrow) to hold the employer accountable and to get justice for the workers who have lost their housing so please be on stand by. We will send out details very soon.

If you have any leads on housing please email Nikeeta at nslade@workerscentercny.org.

Thanks for your solidarity and support.

March in Solidarity with Immigrants & Refugees Success!!!

We would also like to thank all of you for coming out and participating in the march in solidarity with immigrants and refugees this past Monday! Over 150 people marched in the streets of community and sent a clear message that we want a CLEAN Dream Act, TPS reinstated, and we do not want county and city resources going to support any immigration enforcement. A special thanks to our friends, New York Immigration Coalition, New York Civil Liberties Union, Black Lives Matter Syracuse, CNY Solidarity Coalition and the Syracuse Peace Council.  Check out some of the news coverage of the march!

Update on Lawsuit Fighting for Protected Right to Organize for Farmworkers

On January 16th, the Albany County Supreme Court dismissed our challenge to a Jim Crow-era state law that denies farmworkers the right to organize without fear of retaliation.  As plaintiff and WCCNY organizer, Crispin Hernandez said “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.”  According to WCCNY organizer, Rebecca, the judge’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.” Not only will we be appealing the judge’s decision, but we will continue fighting so that farmworkers will build power in the workplace and change their working and living conditions and the industry as a whole!

Solidarity and accompaniment for Arely and her family!

Please join us in solidarity with our immigrant families!
No more deportations! No human being is illegal.
Estamos con Arely y su Familia! We are with Arely and her Family!
Join us tomorrow, Wednesday January 31 at 9:30am in front of ICE Syracuse offices, 401 South Salina, NY for solidarity and accompaniment of our friend and member Arely Tomas. Her check-in with ICE is at 10am. We want her to feel the support of the community and to know that we stand in solidarity. Estamos con Arely y su familia! If you can please support the family with a donation here: https://www.youcaring.com/arelytomas-804962

Link to Facebook Event

March for Justice: Immigrants and Refugees are Welcome Here

When: Monday, January 29 at 12 PM – 1 PM

Where: Syracuse City Hall, 233 E Washington St Syracuse NY 13202 Continue reading

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.

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