April 20, 2018
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Latino workers "pay with their lives", new report highlights unsafe work conditions



Washington, DC-Latino workers are the most likely to pay for violations of basic labor laws with their lives, according to a groundbreaking report released today by NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. In advance of Labor Day, NCLR held a telephonic briefing to release Fractures in the Foundation: The Latino Worker's Experience in an Era of Declining Job Quality. The report calls attention to the Latino occupational fatality rate, which is the highest of any demographic group.

The briefing brought together national civil rights, faith, and labor organizations to respond to the findings of the report. Joining NCLR were leaders from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), Farmworker Justice, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Interfaith Worker Justice, and the National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON). Together, they called for targeted outreach and enforcement efforts in high-risk industries and a recommitment to protecting the rights of all workers.

"Latino workers help us tell the story of what is happening to basic standards in the American workplace," said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR. "The daily reality of so many of our workers-low wages, no benefits, and dangerous working conditions-is a shameful testament to how far our nation has regressed from the laws we enacted to protect all workers."

Based on an in-depth analysis of death on the job, wages, and employer-based benefits, the report exposes the severe erosion of job quality in America. The report calls on Congress and the U.S. Department of Labor to restore fairness and dignity to hard work by strengthening enforcement efforts, modernizing labor laws, and collaborating with community-based organizations to empower low-wage and immigrant workers.

"Weak enforcement of labor protections and a patchwork quilt of coverage impose a huge burden on low-wage workers, particularly workers of color, in the form of inferior wages, benefits, advancement opportunities, and workplace safety," Christine Owens, Executive Director of NELP. "The picture painted by Fractures in the Foundation and other recent reports underscores the urgency of reinvigorating Labor Department enforcement of our most basic worker protections, including a fair minimum wage, overtime pay, and safe and healthy worksites. We cannot rebuild and sustain a sound economy on the backs of America's most vulnerable workers."

"All workers are entitled to living wages and safe working conditions. That some employers neglect to even pay their workers what they are due is not only outrageous, it is illegal. Labor laws are meaningless without the capacity and the will to enforce them," said Ted Smukler, Public Policy Director at Interfaith Worker Justice.

Bruce Goldstein, Executive Director of Farmworker Justice, said, "Migrant and seasonal farmworkers-most of whom are Latino-are suffering from the workplace abuses, labor law shortcomings, and broken immigration system described in this invaluable report, and urgently need Congress and the administration to adopt the report's thoughtful, effective solutions. The people who harvest the food on our dinner tables deserve fair treatment on the job."

"NCLR's report confirms with alarming accuracy what many day laborers experience every day," said Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director of NDLON. "This report underscores the need for comprehensive immigration reform that includes strong protections for all workers."

"This report is a critical resource for all those who care about improving and protecting the lives of workers-both immigrant and native born," said Joe Hansen, International President of UFCW. "The recommendations laid out in this report are a roadmap for building safer workplaces, stronger communities, and a more just society. The UFCW is committed to strengthening our nation's labor laws and to ensuring the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. It is our hope that this report will help jumpstart a new dialogue in Congress about protecting workers and providing the tools and resources so that all workers can achieve the American Dream."

"The strength of our economy depends on the strength of our workforce. Workers, employers, and government all play a part in rebuilding a solid foundation of job quality for a better economy," concluded Murguía.

Click here to download the executive summary of the report. Click here to download the full report.

For more information, visit www.nclr.org | http://www.facebook.com/nationalcounciloflaraza | http://www.myspace.com/nclr2008 | http://twitter.com/nclr. 

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