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The Cost of Wage Theft

10 Jun

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“The workers arrive at the Center tired, frustrated and almost without hope of being paid. They have only their faith in God, which helps them continue believing that they will eventually recover what they need to support their families. They wait, and wait, for the law, which is always slow. And once they win their cases, they wait more-because they cannot recover what they are owed.”

 

Those are the words of Director Maria Marroquin of the Day Worker Center, speaking about the unlawful practice of wage theft and the consequences and troubles for those it affects. Wage theft takes many different forms: it can involve being paid “under the table”, employers denying access to legal meals and breaks, late paychecks or bounced paychecks, forced overtime, no overtime pay, the withholding of a worker’s tips, or any other action that defrauds a worker. Though there are federal and state laws in place, the enforcement of wage theft laws is left in the hands of the local governments here in California. Each locale deals with wage theft in a variety of ways, some with more success than others.

 

For instance, San Francisco currently was able to recover the owed minimum wages for 99% of the cases involving wage theft. However, things aren’t going quite so well in nearby San Jose, as well as across the rest of the United States. Even when companies or employers have been found in court to owe wages to their workers, the full amount frequently remains unpaid. Making the situation even more difficult is the pressure against workers if they think of reporting wage theft. Some fear losing their jobs if they speak up, others are threatened with deportation if they are immigrants, a few have been blacklisted in their industries, and many simply do not understand their rights or where to find help.

 

Those who are victims of wage theft suffer from depression, stress, anxiety, and hunger. An inordinate amount of victims are people of color and women. Wage theft is particularly rampant in service industries such as with restaurant and caregiver jobs, it’s present in construction jobs, and bad also in a number of other jobs. Undocumented workers are often taken advantage of, lured in with promises of money only to find that they will not be paid for their work followed by threats of deportation if they seek help. The average worker loses around %15 of their wages in a given year. There are also the matters of the employer avoiding paying necessary taxes, not providing correct tax forms for the workers to complete their own taxes, and undermining businesses who operate legitimately by lowering the buying power of consumers.

 

What these companies are doing is illegal. There is no doubt about that. The loss of wages negatively affects families, communities, law-abiding businesses, and government agencies. There are a few organizations, centers, and government agencies that can assist workers who have had their wages stolen. The list includes but is not limited to: PAWIS, ICAN, AACI, SIREN, MAIZ, the Day Worker Center, WorkSafe, Restaurant Opportunities Center, the NAACP, the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center and the Workplace Justice Initiative.

 

Wage theft is an issue that will only be resolved by everyone working together to penalize employers, advocate for workers, and established education surrounding workers’ rights and wage laws. If you would like more detailed information about, please refer to the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Report or stop by one of the organizations named above. Know your rights, get help, and don’t give up.

 

Michon

Coming Events

6 Jun

This summer will be an exciting time for the Day Worker Center and the community. There are several wonderful events coming up in the next few months and we’d be honored if you joined us! Dates and information are below:

Microsoft Volunteer Fair

June 5

This fair gives Microsoft employees the opportunity to find out more about volunteering with local nonprofits, like DWC. Mountain View Microsoft campus.

 

Community Meetings

June 6

Community Meeting to discuss preventative strategies against wage theft. Mexican Heritage Plaza.

 

SFO/PIA Leadership Summit

June 7

SFOP/PIA Leadership Summit- Preparing to launch a collective campaign platform. Trinity Church, 330 Ravenswood Ave, Menlo Park.

 

NDLON Day Workers’ Conference

June 9-13

NDLON Day Workers’ Center’s National Conference in Los Angeles.

 

Roberto Moran Ordination Anniversary

June 14

50th Anniversary of the ordination of Rev. Roberto Moran. St. Joseph’s Church, 582 Hope Street, Mountain View.

 

Information Session at Sacred Heart

June 16

Informational Session at Sacred Heart, 13716 Saratoga Avenue.

 

Volunteering in Beautification Project

June 19

Volunteering in beautification project at Fremont Open Space Preserve. Fremont Older Open Space Preserve, Cupertino.

 

We hope to see you there. Please direct any comments and/or questions to the Day Worker Center email, leave a comment on this post, or call.

Day Worker Center Needs Donations for Kitchen Renovation | Town Square | Mountain View Online |

27 May

The Day Worker Center does much more than help the community and companies come together around jobs. As pointed out in the article by Jim Neal below, they have big hearts. They provide blankets to children, host blood drives, until recently provided meals, and so much more.

Today is Memorial Day, a holiday meant to remember those who have died after they fought for us. It’s a day to reflect on the actions of those from groups we normally don’t think of when we consider who has served our country. The practice of honoring deceased soldiers dates back hundreds, nearly thousands of years. The practice of honoring the departed in the U.S. goes back to the Civil War. One story involves former slaves paying homage to the brave people who fought and died for their freedom.

There are people here fighting for their freedom today. The freedom to work, to be paid a fair wage, and to seek care for their health and well-being. The Day Worker Center is run not by military soldiers but by a dedicated staff all the same that believes that the sacrifices they make will lead their patrons to economic freedom. They put useful tools into the hands of those who are often forgotten, those struggling to better themselves, and who want to do it in a country that promises freedom by the actions of those protecting it.

The Day Worker Center would like to bring their kitchen up to code but they need your help to do it. Investing in them is investing in the community and its workers. We honor those who served and died in a divided nation. Let us remember to also honor those who serve now, in multiple ways and in many different roles. I do not mean to draw attention away from the brave soldiers of the past. I only hope to remind you that there are still people today in a variety of jobs and services that are not often thanked or supported. If you know anyone who’s been able to move forward because of the Center, or if you were someone they helped, please consider giving back.

You never know whose lives you might touch with a good meal in a warm and renovated kitchen.

For more information, please refer to the article below and the Day Worker Center website, found here.

http://www.mv-voice.com/square/2014/05/21/day-worker-center-needs-donations-for-kitchen-renovation

Revival

21 May

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After a long hiatus, it is my pleasure to announce that the Day Worker Center blog is officially back in action. I speak very little Spanish but being around the wonderful volunteers and community that the Center brings in will fix this in due time. I walked into the Center this morning to meet with the staff and discovered all the ways I could help and learn.
My journey starts on the other side of the country. I spent most of my childhood in the Midwest wishing I could get back to California. I missed the variety of people, languages, and opportunity. I finally made it back here and I feel there are a few similarities between my situation and those of the people who make use of the Center’s resources.
There are people searching for jobs, for skills, for a chance to start over. Having moved so often in my youth I am no stranger to beginning anew. This state I left as a young child is both familiar and alien. I must learn new ways of thinking, stretch my talents so they grow to benefit others, and manage to communicate effectively with others who speak a language I do not know.
I am excited about this new chance, this revival, this ability to step into unknowns and emerge from the other side changed for the better.
The Center boasts a warm space, dedicated staff, eager volunteers, and hard-working patrons. There are dreams for the future nestled in the gardens they’ve planted and with time and cooperation those seeds will grow and bloom into realities for all who are touched by the Center. I look forward to being a part of a Center that truly cares about its community, that provides tools to better oneself, and that has so many walking around the grounds and offices with a sparkle in their eye and a smile on their face.
From this moment on, I’ll keep you updated on events, stories, and resources for the Day Worker Center. One day soon I hope to also post in Spanish! Feel free to let me and the others at the Center know about the things you want to see and hear on this blog.

Michon