Thursday, September 5, 2013

¡Fuerza del Valle Turns Up the Heat on Wage Theft!

Education and Commitment Across the Rio Grande Valley, students are eagerly returning to school; they, as we, anticipate the wonders education can achieve for our society, especially in the realm of labor exploitation. Fuerza del Valle Workers’ Center anticipates eagerly the wonders community education can achieve with the local Police/Sherriff Authorities cooperating with working families in the struggle to stop wage theft. Epidemic of Wage Theft in the Borderlands There is a wage theft epidemic in the borderlands. One in five constructions workers experienced the denial a paycheck in Texas last year according to a groundbreaking study on Texan construction workers. Fuerza del Valle Documented 250 labor abuses in the 2012 alone from all low wage worker industries, restaurant, construction, domestic, and agriculture: 90% of them were unpaid labor. The civil remedies to address the issue are simply not enough, 91% of undocumented construction workers do not know of the Texas Workforce Commission and half of the construction workforce in Texas is undocumented. The Department of Labor is flooded with complaints and lacks jurisdiction on many problematic work sites. Attorneys for poor working people free of charge are few and private attorneys are expensive and in most wage-theft cases unwilling to litigate a case due to the lack of potential in attorney’s fees or profit. We need additional tools to curb the exploitation of workers through the uncivil practice of wage theft. Wage Theft is a Crime in Texas Texas has a Theft of Service Law (31.04 in the Texas Criminal Code) which criminalizes unpaid labor, or wage theft. This law became stronger in 2011 thanks to the Build a Better Texas Campaign, spearheaded by the Workers Defense Project. No longer can employers give a partial payment and claim benevolent intent, this too is a criminal practice. We collaborated with our community allies to take steps to truly criminalize unpaid labor and have been working hard for the last five months to get adequate attention on the criminal practice. Workers affiliated with Fuerza del Valle, organizers with La Union del Pueblo Entero, members of ARISE, and allies at the South Texas Civil Rights Project have diligently been meeting with police departments, the sheriff department, and opened a conversation with the district attorney to address this problem. Theft of Service Press Conference-A Commitment to Justice This Summer of 2013 we displayed the fruits of our work by hosting a press conference at the historical Farm Worker Union Hall in San Juan, TX. Representative from different police departments were present to inform the public of their commitment to enforce the law and support working people. We had representatives from San Juan PD, Pharr PD, McAllen PD, Mission PD and Alton PD. We will continue our conversation with the authorities to make sure workers are defended when a crime is committed against them, when they are denied their pay. Together working communities and the authorities through education and commitment can achieve a better RGV, one where workers do not have to experience wage theft and if they do they can trust the employers will be punished by the justice system. You can see more photos of and stories of the press conference at Fuerza del Valle’s facebook page. Join the movement against wage theft and for economic justice, support the Workers Center, like our Facebook Page, follow us on twitter, make a donation at the TCRP donation site (make sure to scroll down to give your donation to Fuerza del Valle), donate some time and energy, email us at fuerzadelvalle@gmail.com Check out the Media Coverage of This Event Conferencia Sobre El Robo De Sueldo En El Valle Valley Employees Victim of Wage Theft Wage Theft Prevalent Among Undocumented Immigrants Se Suman los Jefes de Polic√≠as a las Movilizaciones a Favor de los Derechos Salariales de los Trabajadores Utilizaran Estatutos Para Encauzar a Empleadores Van Contra el Robo de Salarios a Empleados Denuncian Acoso Labora y Amenazas en McAllen

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