We received great press coverage of our direct action to reclaim $5,500 in unpaid wages owed by the owner of Margarita’s Bar & Grill in Des Moines.

Media coverage helps makes more people aware that wage theft happens in our communities and sends a strong those employers that they will be called out and held accountable.

See the coverage from WHO TV 13, ABC News 5 and the Des Moines Register below.

 

 

 

WHO TV 13 news – Restaurant Pay Protest (video)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABC 5 TV news – Protest over $5,550 in Unpaid Wages

by Jessica Daley     A former employee of Margaritas Sports Bar and Grill claims the owner owes her thousands of dollars in unpaid wages. Friday night she brought support to try and get him to pay up.

Thirty-five people chanted inside Margaritas waiting for the owner Ivan Escalona to show up.

The group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is supporting Angelica Sandoval, a former employee who says she’s owed $5500 in unpaid wages. The CCI said this is the fourth complaint they’ve received against Margaritas for employees not being paid for their work.  READ MORE

 

Des Moines Register – Demonstrators claim bar owner not paying up

A former worker alleges she is a victim of wage theft.

Written by Grant Rodgers   Demonstrators visited a southeast Des Moines bar and grill on Friday night, asking to meet with the owner and receive unpaid wages owed to a former employee.

The group of workers and volunteers with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, as well as demonstrators from Occupy Des Moines, claim that Ivan Escalona, owner of Margarita’s Bar and Grill, 1440 Maury St., owes Angelica Sandoval, a former bartender, $5,545 in wages. READ MORE

 

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“It’s not only unacceptable, it’s illegal.”

 

On Friday, December 2, two dozen Iowa CCI members and supporters from Occupy Des Moines paid a visit to Margarita’s on Des Moines’ Southeast side. We were there to collect $5,545 in unpaid wages owner Ivan Escalona owes former bartender and CCI member Angelica Sandoval – the equivalent of seven month’s pay.

Sometimes Angelica’s paychecks would bounce. Other times Escalona would only pay for some hours and make up excuses to put off paying her the rest. She came to Iowa CCI after she heard that by working with CCI a former co-worker got Escalona to pay her over $2,500 in stolen wages.

This is the fourth complaint we have received about Margarita’s not paying their employees for their hard work.

Members and staff have spoken with Margarita’s owner on the phone and tried to set up multiple meetings for him to make the situation right. After tonight’s action Sandoval will file a wage claim with Iowa Workforce Development.

“I’m very happy because we made our point here. Now everybody will know what kind of business he is running,” said Sandoval. The action was picked up by Des Moines TV Channels 5 and 13 and the Des Moines Register.

Iowa CCI organizing has helped54 workers win back $122,014.90 in stolen wages in the past year and a half.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Fair Day’s Pay: The Movement to End Wage Theft

 

Iowa CCI’s wage theft organizing campaign gets a brief mention on page 20 of the Discount Foundation’s new report.

To date Iowa CCI’s organizing to stop wage theft has helped members reclaim $122,000 in stolen wages for 48 workers in central Iowa.

View the report here: http://www.discountfoundation.org/sites/all/files/Wage_Theft_Report_2011_Oct.pdf

From the Discount Foundation’s website:

Over the last decade, grassroots opposition to Wage Theft has grown dramatically across the country. Wage theft, the illegal underpayment of wages primarily affects the working poor. It is widespread and occurs in various forms and industries. It is estimated that millions of low wage workers annually are not paid at legally required overtime rates, at minimum wages or for total hours worked. In response workers’ rights organizations have engaged in increasingly sophisticated and successful campaigns to strengthen enforcement and make sure that monies due employees are repaid.

 

In a new report: “A Fair Day’s Pay: The Movement to End Wage Theft”, Nik Theodore, an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois, examines over a dozen examples of organizations utilizing innovative tactics to combat this illegal practice. Commissioned by the Discount Foundation, the report reviews a variety of local, state and federal strategies driven by grantee organizations to address violations of employment laws.

 

A packed crowd of over 115 CCI members and others met with Polk County Sheriff Bill McCarthy and Des Moines Police Captain Todd Dykstra and Lt. Joe Gonzalez Nov. 2 to voice concerns about fair treatment and to ask Sheriff McCarthy to end participation in a federal program inaptly named “Secure Communities”.

Dozens shared their stories and the Sheriff and Police Departments felt our unity and heard our message loud and clear. In the meeting McCarthy stated that the county will not fingerprint for misdemeanors – a move that will reduce the number of unnecessary deportations – saying, “We believe our job is to investigate and solve crimes and we cannot do that if you are afraid to talk to us.”

“It’s good to know the law enforcement wants to hear from the Latino community. Everyone deserves to feel safe. It’s better for all the whole community,” said member Natalie Espinoza (photo) from Des Moines, who shared her story.

We got several commitments and clarifications from local law enforcement. Most notably:

  • Sheriff McCarthy announced that the Polk County Jail will not fingerprint those brought in for misdemeanors. This is a big win and a bold move that will reduce the number of unnecessary deportations under “Secure Communities”. If undocumented immigrants are not fingerprinted then their information is not sent to ICE. His announcement comes after months of CCI and like-minded groups working to denounce “Secure Communities” in the media, at the city  meetings, and to Sheriff McCarthy directly.
  • Police officers may not ask for anything more than a license, car registration, and proof of insurance. Meaning, they cannot ask about immigration status. Police Lt. Joe Gonzalez passed out official complaint forms so people can come forward and make a complaint if they feel they have been racial profiling or are bullied about immigration status.
  • Sheriff meetingSheriff McCarthy (photo) committed to send an officer to the Iowa CCI office if anyone wants to make a complaint about treatment at the Polk County Jail. And, Chief Sheriff Deputy Victor Munoz reaffirmed that you do not need to be documented to visit family in the jail, all they need to bring is some form of ID.
  • Des Moines Police told the audience that everyone has the right to an interpreter so they know why they were stopped and/or what they are being charged with. An officer cannot deny access to an interpreter and officers should be carrying cell phones with a translation service with them at all times.

We will be following up with the Sheriff on the specifics of his new fingerprinting policy. And, as always, we will be holding both departments accountable to their own rules. When they will not call an interpreter or if they ask about someone’s immigration status, CCI members will be there to make the complaints and hold them accountable.

Thanks for a great meeting! If you attended, we would love to hear your thoughts.