Workers Boost Economy, Endure Abuse
Doug Bloch (415) 467-7768
(SAN FRANCISCO) — Teamsters Joint Council 7 spoke out at a recent hearing on the abuse of immigrant workers by California businesses. The hearing, called for by Assemblymember Roger Hernandez, Chair of the Assembly Labor & Employment Committee, included testimony from immigrant workers at Marquez Brothers and the warehouse, car wash and recycling industries.
“All immigrants should be treated with respect, but that is not what is happening in our state,” said Ashley Alvarado, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 601 and Secretary-Treasurer of the Teamsters Cannery Council representing more than 15,000 primarily Latino workers in the industry. “Employees should be protected against harassment from employers, but even today, in this very room, employers feel that they can intimidate their employees.”
Committee members and witnesses had observed that there were several attorneys representing the Marquez Brothers, a company whose employees voted for Teamster representation last year, present in the hearing room.
“Every worker deserves respect and dignity,” said Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation. “At the hands of unscrupulous employers immigrants are the most abused. They live in the dark shadows of silence due to threats made to their families. Why must workers be followed when they are just speaking the truth?”
Hernandez commented on the irony of Marquez Brothers company attorneys being present at a hearing where workers’ would be speaking about abuses they had endured at the hands of their employers. In a stunning rebuke of the company, Hernandez vowed to subpoena Marquez Brothers CEO Gustavo Marquez and any other company executives who retaliated against workers who attended the hearing. You can see that video here: http://youtu.be/IOeGCaU5kIQ
Hernandez also clarified that the sole reason for the hearing was to unearth employer misdeeds and seek solutions, primarily through a legislative bill, AB 263, which he introduced.
“AB 263 will protect immigrant workers against retaliation in the workforce,” Hernandez said. “This Bill will ensure that many of the hard-working individuals in this state are properly protected, by defending basic workers’ rights.”
Hernandez also assured the workers who participated in the hearing that he would keep watch on the actions of the companies and they would act upon hearing of any mistreatment.
“Despite making companies richer and richer with their hard work, immigrants in California continue to be treated as second-class citizens,” Alvarado said. “We need stronger laws, like AB 263, that will penalize employers who retaliate against immigrant workers.”
The full video of the hearing can be seen here: http://calchannel.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=980