On Wednesday, February 27th, CCI organizers hosted a Future of Work meeting; members were there to learn more about our worker justice campaign, vision what the future of work could look like for their communities, and learn how they can get involved to help make that a reality.

Workers discussed current working conditions in jobs that members of their communities often take (such as construction and restaurant work), and contrasted current conditions with what they believe can be accomplished — a vision of work that’s fair, just, and equitable.

Here’s how members described the current working conditions in their communities:

  • being paid in cash
  • receiving bounced checks
  • wage theft
  • being paid minimum wage or below minimum wage
  • long hours with little pay
  • abusive subcontracting, not knowing who my boss is
  • slavery/ slavery like conditions

Members went on to discuss ideal working conditions, and how they could work towards them:

  • employee benefits
  • a living wage
  • no discrimination
  • knowing who my boss is
  • overtime pay if applicable

Before the meeting adjourned, members took blank petition sheets to recruit members of their community to the Future of Work Campaign.

 

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On February 27th, Reu, Juan, and Baldemar, construction workers in the Des Moines area, met their wage thief head on – a man named Nick from a construction company in Des Moines.

The workers were owed wages for a construction project they did at one of Nick’s projects.

Nick hired a contractor named Eugene Ullman who came up to Iowa from Mississippi for this job. Eugene then hired Reu, Juan and Baldemar in Iowa. A few weeks into the project Eugene left to Mississippi and said he’d be back…

The workers continued working on Nick’s house under the belief that Eugene would return. But after a week of working for no pay, the workers tried to contact Eugene — and he was completely missing in action.

During that week of work, the workers were being supervised by Nick. Because members were not able to contact Eugene, they went up the “supply chain” and held Nick accountable for the wage theft. The workers asked him for a meeting.

Nick agreed to meet with the workers.

Out of the meeting, the workers realized that Nick was misclassifying them; Nick argued that they were subcontractors and that he had nothing to do with it. However, the workers laid out a good argument making Nick accountable for the stolen wages.

After a lot of back and forth and disagreement from both sides, Nick agreed to pay the workers and wrote a check for them right there. They were each owed different amounts but in total they won back $1,806.50.

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Iowa CCI’s worker rights program hosts worker clinics the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month.

Come to our worker clinics if you are experiencing:

  • wage theft,
  • discrimination at your workplace,
  • health and/or safety violations at work, or
  • other issues related to your rights in the workplace.

If you are experiencing any of the above, come to CCI’s worker clinics and learn what you can do to reclaim your rights. The worker clinics are held the SECOND and FOURTH Monday of every month starting at 5 p.m. at the Iowa CCI office – 2001 Forest Ave, Des Moines, IA.

Our upcoming worker clinics:

  • Wednesday, January 29th at 5:00 p.m.
  • Monday, February 10th at 5:00 p.m.
  • Monday, February 24th at 5:00 p.m.

 

Join the Fight!

CCI Organizer Bridget Fagan and members Jeannette Bauer, John Blasingame, and Phyllis Burget traveled to Washington, D.C. for a Center for Community Change forum on expanding Social Security.

While in D.C., they took time to visit Fast for Families to show support for fair, humane immigration reform and a path to citizenship by visiting Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship.

As part of the Fast for Families campaign, leaders and immigrant members of the community fast every day and night, abstaining from all food—except water—to move the hearts and minds of members of Congress to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship.

Here’s what CCI organizer Bridget had to say about the experience:

I wanted to tell you all about our experience tonight. We joined in solidarity with the fasters fighting for immigration reform, and visited their tent on the capitol grounds where fasters, activists, and supporters gathered.

The tent is pretty large and in charge, heated and decorated from head to toe with pictures, posters, quilts, and more – all remnants that depict families’ fight for fair, humane immigration reform.

Every night there is a ritual at 6pm – guests come, all the fasters come out and sit in the front row of rows of seats, and they have a service where they pray, invite guests to speak, and sing. Each person who is leaving the fast says a few words, and then each new person joining the fast comes forward and receives a cross.

There were anywhere from 70-100 people joining the fasters tonight. It was amazing and powerful.

It is very apparent they have strong support. Labor allies were there, National People’s Action was there, faith leaders were there – and more. Peter and Paul (from Peter, Paul and Mary) were even there.

You can tell the fasters are tired and weak. Rudy Lopez, a longtime CCI friend is still fasting. He was  clearly was touched by the support and love the fasters received tonight.

This is truly something I’m going to take with me for a long time – and I believe our members will too. It’s energy for the fair immigration fight ahead of us.

Join the Fight!

  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
  • Sign up for our E-Mail Action list to get the latest updates
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

As the federal government shutdown continues, everyday Iowans already affected by wage theft now bear the added burden of not having access to help on their wage claims handled by Iowa Workforce Development.

This month, CCI members with pending wage claims for thousands of dollars from unscrupulous employers, were left high and dry as IWD employees working on their cases were furloughed until further notice.

“I have been waiting for so long to recover my wages. This affects me, my family and hundreds of other workers,” said Heron Ortiz, a CCI member from Des Moines who is owed over $1,500 in unpaid wages. “The system already takes a very long time, and now my case is paralyzed,” he said. “It’s not fair to have to wait for Congress all the way there in Washington DC, so that I can recover the wages I already earned here in Iowa.”

Iowa Workforce Development handles cases of wage theft and misclassification (also known as payroll fraud) which cost an estimated $600 million annually to working Iowans, and $60 million in state revenues, according to a report by the Iowa Policy Project released in 2012.

Iowans across the state rely on this state agency to address many workforce related issues, including unpaid wages, occupational health and safety standards, labor certifications and career services. IWD only employs one full-time and one part-time wage claim investigators for the entire state of Iowa.

CCI members are also having trouble reporting wage and hour violations to the regional office of the Department of Labor. The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is in charge of enforcing basic labor laws such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, minimum wage laws and the Family Medical Leave Act.

“The people that caused this shutdown need to fix it. We need to recover our hard-earned money to put food on the table,” Ortiz said. CCI members in Central Iowa call on Congressman Tom Latham, who voted for the government shutdown, to consider the pressing needs of constituents and work to end the shutdown.

Join the Fight!

  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
  • Sign up for our E-Mail Action list to get the latest updates
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

On Saturday, September 21st, 20 everyday Iowans delivered a message to the Humboldt Police Department: our community won’t stand for racial profiling.

The 20 people present delivered a letter at the Humboldt Police Station requesting a meeting with the Humboldt Chief of Police (who is also the Sheriff). The action was in response to a number of complaints from Humboldt community members stating that a cop has been racially profiling members of the Latino community.

According to the complaints, the cop had been pulling Latinos over (despite no traffic violation) just to ask for their licenses. The cop has pulled people over on bikes, in cars, and sometimes just drives around the predominantly Latino neighborhood in Humboldt – causing many to feel threatened and intimidated in their own homes.

Following the action, the Chief of Police/ Sheriff reached out to schedule a meeting regarding the issue.

On Wednesday, October 9th, CCI and community members hosted a packed meeting with the Chief of Police/ Sheriff, the City Adminstrator, and other officials. Over 40 community members showed up to share their experiences being profiled by the officer.

Community members demanded that the Sheriff work with the community to end the officer’s racial profiling.

Though the sheriff didn’t view the stops as racially motivated, he agreed to work with the community to solve the problem. The sheriff went on to say, “I don’t have anything against the Latino community. I know you all come here to work hard – and we appreciate it.”

Stay tuned for further updates.

Join the Fight!

  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
  • Sign up for our E-Mail Action list to get the latest updates
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter