By Kevin Curtin
International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, is a day to honor the historic struggles and gains made by workers and the labor movement, observed in most countries on May 1. Contrary to popular belief, International Workers’ Day began in the United States in the late 19th century to commemorate the struggle for an 8-hour workday and better working conditions. At the height of the Industrial Revolution, thousands of men, women and children died every year from inhumane working conditions and long hours. To try to abolish these horrific working conditions, the Federation of Organized Trades & Labor Unions (later the American Federation of Labor or AFL) held a convention in Chicago in 1884 to demand an 8-hour legal workday in the United States by May 1, 1886.
By Diana Saguilan
After a year of sacrifice and loss, New York State (NYS) failed to include farmworkers and food processing workers as essential to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in its initial roll out. Throughout the pandemic, access to basic goods like vegetables, fruits, dairy, and poultry have been important to every community in the state. For this simple reason, farmworkers and food processing workers were and continue to be essential to our state’s economy. Our communities have worked endlessly to ensure food distribution warehouses, grocery stores, and food banks have enough food to keep New Yorkers nourished. After all, every human must eat to stay alive. Yet, when the vaccine became available farmworkers and food processing workers were not listed in the Phase 1B category along with other essential workers - seemingly nobody knows why.
El año 2020 será recordado por su gran prueba a la humanidad. Juntos manejamos la incertidumbre económica, el dolor y la pérdida de amigos y familiares, la inseguridad alimentaria, una elección tumultuosa, el dolor de nuestra nación por los continuos ataques raciales y la incapacidad de no poder compartir con nuestros seres queridos. Navegar por la pandemia como organización y para aquellos a quienes servimos se sintió interminable y, a veces, agotador. Sin embargo, esta prueba también demostró nuestra gran capacidad de recuperación. Hemos sido testigos de avances científicos históricos en las vacunas, el uso de máscaras en público, el poder predominante de la democracia, y la respuesta humana más fundamental a la crisis; la ayuda a través de la comunidad. Covid-19 solo exacerbó y destacó las marcadas disparidades que enfrentan las comunidades de inmigrantes y personas de color incluso en “tiempos normales”.Read more
After the horrific shootings in Atlanta, one of our Spring interns was compelled to write the following blog post to share her story. We thank her for her testimony and her powerful words. We have respected the request to keep this blog anonymous.
America prides itself on being a cultural melting pot. Yet, discrimination toward immigrants and people of color is an everyday occurrence. As an intern at Worker Justice Center of New York, I expected that I would support programming that helped immigrant workers, but I am coming to understand through this experience how often workplace violence and wrongdoing is caused by racism. My own experience as a person of Asian descent working in the food service industry, amidst the current rise of anti-Asian hate, helped fuel this realization.Read more
Two Thousand and Twenty will be remembered for its test on humanity. Together, we managed economic uncertainty, grief and loss, food insecurity, a tumultuous election, the pain of our nation’s ongoing racial reckoning, and the inability to commune in person with those we love. Navigating the pandemic as an organization and for those we serve felt endless and, at times, all consuming. Yet, this test also proved our resiliency. We witnessed historic scientific advancements in vaccines, people coming together to wear masks in public, the prevailing power of democracy, and the most fundamental human response to crisis: aid through community. COVID-19 only exacerbated and highlighted the stark disparities immigrant communities and people of color face even in “normal times.”
Recommendation rolls back progress from 2019 legislation, upholds legacy of racial exclusion.
Hello, my name is Erika Aguilera and I am a Worker Rights Advocate for WJCNY in the Rochester area.
Back in November, Erin Lantzer, the Instructional Specialist for Webster Central Schools in Webster, NY, asked me to speak with their 5th graders about how WJCNY supports farmworkers in their fight for human rights. Erin mentioned that the 5th graders were learning about human rights and reading the book Esperanza Rising. When I met with the students, we discussed Esperanza and her family’s experience as a wealthy Mexican family who immigrated to California to perform agriculture work during the Great Depression. And we discussed why it is important for groups like WJCNY to fight for the rights of families like Esperanza's.
As someone who grew up in a family of farmworkers, I was very moved to hear these children discuss the rights of agricultural workers and the challenges they face in the workplace. I asked the students about their experiences picking apples in the fall and how they would feel to do that work every day without access to sanitary bathrooms, overtime pay, and in the cold. My heart filled with pride when the children responded, “Why don’t they have better bathrooms? Why does the boss underpay them? Why do they get discriminated against? It’s not right!”
We agree. It’s not right.
Notice of Class Action Settlement: Barragan Contreras et al. v. Rosann Landscape Corp. et al., No. 7:17-cv-06453-CS
Preliminary approval has been granted to the $1 million settlement in the class action lawsuit in Barragan Contreras et al. v. Rosann Landscape Corp. et al., Case No. 7:17-cv-06453-CS (S.D.N.Y.). Approximately 80 landscaping workers who were employed by Rosann Landscape between August 2011 and February 2019 are eligible to recover unpaid overtime wages and other damages through this settlement. In order to receive money from the settlement, class members must submit a claim form by June 17, 2021.
For more information about the settlement, including how to file a claim form if you believe you are a member of the class, please click on the below links or call WJCNY at 845-331-6615.
WJCNY is now accepting applications for its Spring 2021 Development Internship. Learn more below!
Job Type: Development Internship
Schedule Type: 2021 Spring (Part-Time)
Job Title: Development Intern
Commitment: 10-15 hours a week
Compensation: Unpaid with Opportunity for College Credits
The Worker Justice Center of New York (WJCNY) is seeking a Spring Development Intern to work remotely part-time. The Intern will be a part of the Development Program and will work closely with the Development Associate and others in the organization.
Are you interested in a nonprofit career? Do you like connecting people to the causes they care about? Fundraising may be right up your alley! This internship is a great opportunity for someone who is interested in this field and wants to combine their relationship skills, writing skills, and marketing prowess to their social justice passions.Read more
WJCNY is seeking a tech and design savvy intern to join our organization as an intern for the Winter/Spring of 2021. The selected applicant will work closely with our Advocacy and Communications Specialist on both internal communications needs as well as externally for our advocacy commitments.