The Bergen RECORD on Sunday, October 13, 2013, carried an excellent article on wage theft issues in our area. Entitled “Day Laborers often silent victims,” the article, by Monsy Alvarado, presents several stories of workers who have not been paid for work which they performed in good faith.
The article describes the efforts of the CoFiA Wage Theft Committee to help them collect these wages. It features Angelica Martinez, CoFiA member and organizer, who works closely with the workers and the Wage Theft Committee. It also provides data from the 2010 Seton Hall Law School’s Center for Social Justice study that showed that 48 percent of immigrant day laborers they interviewed (many of them from the Palisades Park area) were not paid, and 94 percent were not given overtime when due. Dr. Hung En Sung, a CoFiA member and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, is quoted as saying that his studies have found that 70 percent of workers interviewed in his research had been a victim of wage theft at least once.
Alvarado interviewed several workers who shared their stories. Segundo R. Castillo’s employer failed to pay him and three others each about $1800 in wages. He sought help from the volunteers at CoFiA and eventually, with their help, he and the other workers were able to receive payment.
Alvarado also interviewed Leonia Police Chief Thomas Rowe, who credits the CoFiA volunteers for helping to educate workers to their rights. He said he finds that the workers are keeping better records and are able to document the abuses they have suffered.
Senator Loretta Weinberg, a Teaneck Democrat who is the Majority Leader of the New Jersey Senate, is quoted as saying, “This is an issue of fairness, equity, and civil rights, and if you work you should get paid for it.” Senator Weinberg has submitted a bill to the Senate that would increase penalties for wage theft.
To see the full article and a video, click on the link below.