On March 6th, New Mexico’ governor Bill Richardson signed House Bill 489, which provides stronger protections for workers who file claims for unpaid wages and overtime and penalizes the employers who steal from them.
From our partners at Somos un Pueblo Unido:
Too many employers were getting away with stealing wages from New Mexico’s workers,” said Marcela Díaz, Director of Somos. “This law will make it easier for aggrieved workers to recuperate their wages, an important gain especially during these hard economic times.”
“This law not only benefits workers, but also levels the playing field between honest employers and dishonest ones who cut costs by stealing wages,” explained Brandt Milstein, a Santa Fe based labor attorney working with Somos on the bill.
During the last ten years, Somos has documented hundreds of wage theft abuses in the immigrant community. Last year alone, the Department of Workforce Solutions Labor Relations Division investigated over 2,400 wage claims from immigrant and non immigrant workers.
“The passage of this law sends a strong message to those employers who think they can take advantage of their workers,” said Rayos Burciaga, a housekeeper and Somos’ board member. “Now bad employers will think twice about cheating their employees out of their paycheck.”
Congratulations on this victory! This is yet another step towards helping to protect ALL workers and bringing immigrants out of the shadows. If we want our economy to work, it must work for everyone.
A post by Farmworker Justice has been making the rounds on the blogosphere this week. Apparently the Bush administration is making last minute changes at the Department of Labor that will set migrant farmworkers back to the Bracero era.
These will be the most far-reaching changes in the laws regulating agricultural guestworker programs since 1942. They will return us to an era of agricultural labor exploitation that many thought ended decades ago.
The changes cut wage rates and wage protections for both domestic and foreign workers, minimize recruitment obligations inside the U.S. and curtail or eliminate much of the government oversight that is supposed to deter and remedy illegal employer conduct.
It comes as no shock that while this administration has LOUDLY been proclaiming the “successes” of worksite raids, they are quietly undercutting wages and workers’ rights.
For more, here’s a round-up of coverage:
Nezua at the Unapologetic Mexican discusses the changes
Latina Lista sums it up nicely with a post titled: Bush Administration now bails out agricultural industry with changes to guestworker program that creates a government sanctioned slave market
Bush’s Parting Gift: Working againstMigrant Farmworkers
America’s Voice Discusses Why Now, more than ever, is not the time for these types of changes.
Today at MigraMatters, Duke has a really thoughtful post about the incoming administration (whoever that may be) and how they could deal with immigration sensibly and comprehensively. It is a must-read.
Come January 20, 2009 a new administration will take office in perhaps the most precarious times the nation has faced since the 1930’s. Fighting two seemingly endless wars and with an economy on the verge of collapse, it is not an enviable position for any leader.
While both candidates have avoided the immigration debate like the plague during the campaign, it has moved down the list of important issues for voters, replaced by more pressing issues like healthcare or the economy. But in order to address these more pressing concerns in any meaningful way, the new government will need to tackle immigration once and for all.