For Immediate Release
August 2, 2016
Contact: Armando Carmona, firstname.lastname@example.org, (323) 250-3018
Complaint From Immigrant Workers and NDLON Leads to OSHA Investigation and $100,000 Fine for Serious Safety and Health Violations
Houston, TX – On Monday, August 1st 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that they will fine Houston tortilla factory Espiga de Oro over $100,000 after finding over 20 serious OSHA violations at the factory, including locked emergency exits, exposed live wires, and dangerous heavy machinery without proper safety guards. The OSHA investigation occurred following a complaint filed by six former employees who were arrested during an ICE immigration raid that occurred at the factory one year ago.
The workers were represented in their OSHA complaint by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). Together with the workers, NDLON and Fe y Justicia have advocated for whistleblower protections for the workers and redress for the labor rights violations they and their fellow workers suffered at Espiga de Oro.
“By bravely coming forward and reporting the egregious health and safety violations at Espiga de Oro, these workers improved conditions for workers everywhere,” said Emi MacLean, Staff Attorney for NDLON. “Instead of being arrested in an immigration raid, they should be awarded whistleblower protections in recognition of their courageous work to defend the lives and well-being of their fellow workers.”
Karina Antunes, a former Espiga de Oro employee and one of the workers who filed the OSHA complaint said, “No one should be subjected to the conditions that my co-workers and I experienced at Espiga de Oro. I will never forget the horror of witnessing my co-worker lose two fingers on one of the machines or the anger I felt when our manager refused to call an until he unwrapped his bandage and showed the stubs of his missing fingers. I am proud that by filing this complaint we were able to protect the current employees, and I am hopeful that they will no longer have to go through what we went through.”
“Although ICE was eager to prosecute the immigration violations it found at Espiga de Oro, it took constant pressure from workers and advocacy organizations to make sure that the egregious labor rights violations were also addressed. These workers deserve our thanks for their tireless efforts, which lift up all workers, immigrant and non-immigrant alike,” said Martha Ojeda, Executive Director of Fe y Justicia.
Yajahira Sarahi Ros Moreno, another former Espiga de Oro employee who filed the complaint, and who is currently facing deportation, said, “I will never forget what it felt like to arrive at work in the morning at Espiga de Oro. The unbearable heat, the unrelenting pressure to work faster and faster, the lack of air and access to drinking water—all for so little money. It was like a torture. I still cannot walk past the factory without my body shaking, but today I can take some comfort in knowing that we have done something to improve conditions for the workers who are still there.”