(New Orleans, LA) On Tuesday, July 11, 2023, over 150 migrant workers, including those who were once employed by Bayou Demolition & Renovation, LLC led a press conference and a march towards the Caesars SuperDome in New Orleans to announce their most recent victory in an ongoing workplace abuse case involving their former employer.
“Today I would like to send a message to other women and undocumented workers like myself, that regardless of our status, we have rights and must make our voices heard! If not, these companies will continue to abuse us.” said Lilian Chinchilla, New Orleans Worker of Los Yonis Bayou Workers Committee. “The letter we have received in support of deferred action is thanks to our work of coming together to organize, fight back, and letting go of our fears.”
The workers involved have now received a letter of support for deferred action (protections from deportation & work authorizations) issued by the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division pursuant to a new policy announced earlier this year which protects immigrant workers who report workplace abuse. This comes as a result of the former employees who banded together to collectively file a complaint for unpaid overtime wages, and met with the district director of the Wage & Hour Division to discuss the retaliatory acts of Bayou Demolition after reporting labor abuses to the Department of Labor.
“Today, we are denouncing this company [Bayou Demolition] who have had a long track record of abuses against our most vulnerable communities, such as undocumented workers.” said Mario Mendoza, Co-founder of Familias Unidas en Acción. “It was necessary for us to come out into the streets in order to shed light on what is happening in the state of Louisiana, where there are numerous companies who steal wages and commit labor abuses against our communities.”
In separate occasions, the former Bayou Demolition supervisor physically threatened employees with violence, verbally threatened workers during phone conversations, and coerced some workers into not speaking against the labor violations.
“We are here, alongside this committee of workers, calling on local agencies to fulfill their obligation to support these workplace abuse cases affecting migrant workers across the region, including here at the Super Dome and at post natural disaster re-construction sites.” said Cal Soto, NDLON Director of Workers’ Rights. “We also call for President Biden to publicly state that immigrant workers can cooperate with his administration’s labor agencies to report workplace abuses!”
The victory for the former Bayou Demolition workers sets a precedent in Louisiana against the labor abuse practices that subcontractors have been carrying out since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It is also another victory for the nationwide Deferred Action for Labor Enforcement (DALE) campaign, which since day one of the Biden Administration, has brought together immigrant workers, day laborer centers, and labor rights organizations calling for President Biden to use his executive authority to protect immigrant workers who have proved themselves essential during the pandemic, and who sustain entire sectors and industries such as construction, restaurants, and factories, with their labor.