Apr. 27, 2012
New Rules for Guest Worker Program Help Fight Abuses
*The New Jersey Star-Ledger published this op ed, by Rebecca Smith, NELP Immigrant Worker Justice Project Coordinator:
In February, the U.S. Department of Labor introduced new rules for the H-2B guest worker program, which allows employers to hire temporary foreign workers for seasonal jobs when American workers are not available. Used mainly in industries such as construction, retail, hospitality, janitorial, landscaping, seafood processing and forestry, nearly 2,500 H-2B workers were employed in New Jersey in 2011 — mainly as landscapers, maids, hospitality service and constructions workers — with tens of thousands of others working around the country.
The new rules are common sense. In a struggling economy, they establish recruitment requirements so companies first look to U.S. workers to fill seasonal jobs, including workers recently laid off. They outlaw the exorbitant “recruitment fees” that impoverish many guest workers and leave their families destitute. They require employers to disclose the names of their recruiters and to prohibit them from charging such fees. They also beef up government oversight to ensure compliance.Read More >
Apr. 25, 2012
NELP Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Strike Down Arizonaís SB1070 Immigration Law
Statement by Christine Owens, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project
Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the federal government’s challenge of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB1070. NELP urges the Court to strike down Arizona’s harmful and divisive immigration law, which is detrimental to the lives of all who live and work in the state, and threatens to spread like a cancer to other parts of our nation.
Criminalizing work performed by unauthorized workers, as SB1070 does, only serves to drive these workers deeper underground, and only worsens the workplace exploitation that victimizes them and millions of others whose wages and working conditions are depressed by this exploitation.
As we’ve seen in Arizona and elsewhere, such laws push immigrant workers into abusive “off the books” employment relationships. Workers who fear that at any moment their employer can have them deported, will tolerate extreme workplace conditions. They won’t seek out the help of government agencies, whose employees have been directed to turn them over to federal immigration enforcement agents.
If the Supreme Court upholds SB1070, it will be legalizing racial profiling. Men, women and children, the old and the young, those whose families settled in the United States centuries ago and others arriving more recently, for no reasons other than the way they look or speak, will be subject to random stops, paper checks and subsequent arrests and detention.
We call on the Court to strike down Arizona’s ill-conceived SB1070 immigration law, and put a stop to the unlawful discrimination, racial profiling, and exploitation that such a law only serves to promote.Read More >
Apr. 23, 2012
Farmworker Justice and NAACP Condemn Use of Georgia Immates for Onion Harvest
From our allies at Farmworker Justice and NAACP:
Use of Prisoners for Vidalia Onion Harvest Underlines Agricultural Labor Problems
ATLANTA – The NAACP and advocates for the rights of farmworkers today condemned the state of Georgia’s use of prison inmates to harvest Vidalia onions in response to claims of an agricultural labor shortage. Last week amidst complaints from growers demanding more workers, the Georgia Department of Corrections sent transitional inmates from Smith State Prison to work for an onion grower in Glennville.
“This practice is shocking and regressive,” said Edward O. Dubose, President of the NAACP Georgia State Conference. “The fact that the state is resorting to forced labor to fix economic problems created by our failed immigration policies tells us that something has gone horribly wrong here in Georgia.”
Apr. 23, 2012
Immigrant Worker News Update, April 23, 2012
U.S. News and World Report Covers Constitutionality of Arizona's SB 1070 [USNWR]
Domestic Workers Set To Rally For Stronger Enforcement of NY Domestic Workers Bill of Rights [NY Daily News]
How Mississippi's Black/Brown Alliance Beat the South's Anti-Immigrant Strategy [Indypendent]
Georgia Again Tries to Replace Immigrant Workers with Inmates [ThinkProgress]
Chamber of Commerce Sues Department of Labor over Guestworker Rule Change [International Business Times]
Agricultural Labor Relations Board Fights to Reinstate Watsonville Farmworker [Monterey Herald]
Apr. 19, 2012
Progress on California Wage Theft Recovery Act
The California Labor and Employment Policy Committee of the California State Legislature passed AB 2517, the Wage Theft Recovery Act, out of committee today by a 4-2 vote. The measure ensures that workers have the opportunity to collect on judgments issued in their favor for unpaid wages by authorizing "wage liens" in the car wash industries against the real and personal property of an employer for unpaid wages, and making changes to existing mechanics lien law.Read More >