For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross Posting
Wednesday, July 6th, 2022
Nationwide — In response to today’s announcement of a new workers rights policy by the US Department of Labor, groups from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Immigrant Work released the following statements below, with additional background at bottom, and plan to host a national press call on Thursday, July 7.
Statements from workers and members of the Blue Ribbon Commission:
“For over a year, we have fought to win these protections for workers in Las Vegas. Today we lift up DOL’s announcement, that many more workers across the nation can access the same much-needed and long-awaited protections,” said Rosario Ortiz, worker and member of the Arriba Las Vegas Workers Center.
“We are grateful for the courage of workers across Mississippi who have helped make this possible, speaking out, denouncing workplace abuse. But today, our question remains, how and when will Mississippi workers benefit from this policy?” said Lorena Quiroz, Executive Director of the Immigrant Alliance for Justice & Equity of Mississippi.
“After losing six of our community members last year in a preventable nitrogen leak, we are happy DOL has listened to the advocacy of worker groups in the Blue Ribbon Commission. We will continue to push as formerly undocumented workers and their children in GAFU for the protection of workers who have made places like Gainesville, GA the poultry capitol of the world. I eagerly await President Biden to further this initiative so our hardworking manufacturing community can step out of the shadows,” said Maria del Rosario Palacios, Co-founder GA Familias Unidas.
On behalf of the full Blue Ribbon Commission:
“If there is progress today it is because immigrant workers in Mississippi, Nevada, Georgia, Connecticut, New Jersey, California, NY, and across the country have been ringing the alarm, and demanding respect and recognition for their labor. Today, our work has only just begun to turn the tide on the crisis of exploitation in the US.
“This policy will only be effective if workers are aware that it exists and if they are able to understand and engage in the process that it lays out. We will evaluate this policy based on the results for the many day laborers, poultry workers, and others who face workplace abuse every day. We expect President Biden and his administration knows this, and we welcome DHS Secretary Mayorkas and Secretary Marty Walsh to meet directly with workers to tell them about this policy.”
On October 12, 2021, and in no small part because of public pressure, DHS Secretary Mayorkas issued a “Workplace Enforcement Memo” directing DHS agencies to develop policies to protect workers that denounce workplace abuse in six months. In response, we launched a Blue Ribbon Commission on Immigrant Work – consisting of workers and day laborer centers across various industries and cities nationwide – to ensure that the promise of such a policy is fulfilled.
Over the past eight months, the Blue Ribbon Commission organized multiple assemblies, public hearings and demonstrations highlighting the extent of workplace abuse in factories, warehouses, restaurants, and fields; the extent of wage theft across industries; and the rampant violations of health and safety standards in dangerous workplaces or in the middle of disasters. On December 8, 2021, the Blue Ribbon Commission hosted a public hearing in Washington, DC, where workers from across the country spoke in front of over a dozen DHS officials and issued a Report on Hearing Highlights & Recommendations.
On November 16, US Senator Booker raised the issue directly with DHS Secretary Mayorkas at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. On October 21, NDLON Co-Executive Director Nadia Marin Molina raised the urgency for such a policy on MSNBC.
### END ###