A Sinister Strategy

June 05, 2017

Last month a worker was injured on the job. His employer failed to carry Workers Compensation insurance as required by law. In an attempt to escape liability and avoid paying damages, the employer invited the worker to a meeting where he feigned concern for his family and handed him an envelope of cash. It was a trap. When the worker exited the building, ICE was waiting for him and he was arrested. It was the worst kind of retaliation possible. Unfortunately, this worker is one of millions of undocumented workers in the United States and his greedy employer opted to call ICE and have him deported rather than pay the legal consequences of his actions. Fortunately, however, the worker had the support of the Metrowest Worker Center, MassCOSH and other members and allies of the Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative who rallied behind him and he has received deferred action.  However, he is not the only immigrant worker who is being exploited by unscrupulous employers willing to break the law to increase their profits.  

In a statement made last week the New England Regional Council of Carpenters said,  “If someone works they deserve to be paid. If they are injured on the job they are entitled to workers compensation coverage. End of story. A worker’s immigration status should not play any role in whether these right apply. Immigrant officials going after any worker involved in a workplace dispute has a chilling effect on others exerting their rights under the law.”
We, the members of the Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative, agree.  Where there are clear violations of labor and/or health and safety laws, we should be protecting the workers whose rights have been violated, not the violators of the law.  To do so sets a dangerous legal precedent and creates a serious breach of trust with our public institutions.  Undocumented citizens will not only be afraid to report violations of labor laws and health and safety laws, but also crimes, sexual harassment, domestic violence and medical emergencies if they cannot be assured that they will not then become the victims of retaliation.  
We, the members of the Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative and our allies, will not sit idly by and watch immigrant workers be exploited and punished.  We will stand behind them.  We will continue to fight for the rights and safety of ALL workers.
Signed, the members of the Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative:
Brazilian Worker Center (Boston, MA & Bridgeport CT) (www.braziliancenter.org)
Brazilian Women’s Group (Brighton, MA) (http://www.verdeamarelo.org)
Centro Comunitario de los Trabajadores (New Bedford, MA)  www.cct-newbedford.org
Chelsea Collaborative (Chelsea, MA) (http://www.chelseacollab.org/)
Chinese Progressive Association (Chinatown, Boston, MA) (http://cpaboston.org/)
Fuerza Laboral (Central Falls, RI) (http://www.fuerza-laboral.org/)
Lynn Worker Center (Lynn, MA) (http://lwcej.org/)
MassCOSH (Dorchester and East Boston, MA) (http://www.masscosh.org/)
Metrowest Worker Center/Casa do Trabalhador/ Casa del Trabajador (Framingham and Milford, MA) (http://www.mwc-casa.org/)
And our Allies (as of 6/5/17):
Massachusetts Jobs With Justice
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Massachusetts Jobs With Justice
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Massachusetts Jobs With Justice
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
Arlington Street Church- Immigrant Justice Task Force
Boston Teachers Union
Boston Ujima Project
Cambridge United for Justice with Peace
Centro de Trabajadores Unidos- Chicago
Chelsea Collaborative
Clinicians for Healthy Families
Coalition for Social Justice
Community Labor United                                                                                                    
El Centro Del Immigrante
Essex County Community Organization
Greater Boston Labor Council
Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS)
Hampshire Franklin Central Labor Council
Hesperian Health Guides/Hesperian-Guias de salud
Justice at Work
Labor Resource Center, UMass Boston
Lost River Racial Justice
Massachusetts AFL-CIO
Massachusetts Jobs With Justice
Massachusetts Teachers Association
Massaschusetts Communities Action Network
Matahari Women Workers' Center
Migrant Justice / Justicia Migrante
MIRA Coalition
MTA – Massachusetts Teachers Association
National Council for Occupational Safety and Health
National Employment Law Project
National Immigration Law Center
Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts
New England Joint Board UNITE HERE
New York City Refugee and Asylee Health Consortium (NYCRAHC)
North Shore Labor Council
Pioneer Valley Workers Center
SEIU Local 888
The Root Social Justice Center
The Welcome Project
Transnational Cultural and Community Studies Program, UMass Boston
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 328
Vermont Workers' Center
United Steelworkers District 4
Warehouse Workers for Justice
Worcester Roots
Workers' Center of Central New York
Youth Development in Context Lab, Suffolk University