CCI members and staff went to a Des Moines Target  to stand in solidarity with our friends at Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Luchas –
Center for Workers United in the Struggle (CTUL).
CTUL is an organizational ally located in Minneapolis.

CTUL has been organizing cleaning workers for some time now and they have a campaign targeted at Target.

Target in the Twin Cities, Des Moines, and other locations subcontract their cleaning services. Workers are paid poverty wages. Target has the power, as one of the largest companies in our country, to hold their subcontracted companies to a higher standard – they can demand they pay a living wage.

The Minnesota Department of Health recently published a report that links poverty wages to health disparities. The report shows that workers earning poverty wages are more susceptible to diseases such as diabetes and are more prone to stress and other ailments when compared to higher wage earners. These workers live on average 8 years less.

We delivered this letter to a Des Moines Target and requested information on who they contract with to clean their stores.

#EndPovertyWages

Fellow CCI member, activist, and friend, Constantino Morales, is still in deportation proceedings.

We need you to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials TODAY and ask them to stop Constantino’s deportation. Call Scott Baniecke, ICE Field Director at (952) 853-5900 and press option 9.

Thanks to you, ICE has received over 100 calls and Constantino is so grateful. Unfortunately, ICE denied our first request. But, we have sent a second request to ICE that has support from Polk Country Sheriff Bill McCarthy and Representative Bruce Hunter. Your continued action is crucial.

Here’s a little background on Constantino: Due to personal and safety circumstances in his hometown of Huehuetán, Mexico, Constantino applied for political asylum here in the U.S., but after a long process, his request was recently denied. He may be detained and deported at any time, which would put his life risk in Mexico.

Constantino is an active leader in his community. He fought alongside us in our campaign for immigration reform, and has inspired many to take action on issues affecting immigrants in Iowa.

ICE has the discretion to stop Constantino’s deportation. Will you call ICE TODAY and ask them to stop Constantino’s deportation?

Step 1: Dial Scott Baniecke, ICE Field Director at (952) 853-5900, and press option 9.

Step 2: Ask ICE to stop Constantino’s deportation:

“Hi, I am calling to ask ICE to exercise prosecutorial discretion in the case of Constantino Morales (A# 200 588 443). Constantino is a hardworking community leader who has stood up for workers’ and immigrants’ rights in Iowa, and he faces threat of violence if he is deported to Mexico. He deserves an opportunity to remain unharmed, and he is a low-priority case that should not be removed from the United States. Please stop Constantino’s deportation!

*Please note that some of the phone calls have been answered by those who attempt to shame Constantino’s name and direct you to another ICE office. If this happens, please do not be discouraged – express your support and ask Field Officer Director Baniecke to stop Constantino’s deportation. You are calling the correct field office.

Step 3: Reply to this email to let us know how your call went.

As lawmakers in Washington DC fail to fix our broken immigration system, good hard-working citizens like Constantino continue to suffer at their expense. In times like these, we must come together and stand up for justice.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

 

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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.

Join the Fight!

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.
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Over fifty members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement packed a meeting with Representative Tom Latham (R-Iowa) to share their stories and demand action on the pathway to citizenship for 11 million hopeful Americans.

CCI member Amalia Hernandez and her husband Alberto faced constant discrimination, abuse and threats at work because of their immigration status. “For a year and a half, we were emotionally and verbally abused; they called us ‘(expletive) illegals’ and said they’d call ICE to have us deported,” she told the Congressman.

“After I left the police force in Mexico, I was assaulted because I’d been a cop. That’s no way for my family to live, in such violence,” said Constantino Morales, a CCI member. “I decided to come here. Soon after, ICE came for me at work and I’m in deportation proceedings now. If I’m sent back, I will face more violence and could lose my life,” he told Latham.

“On my day off, ICE came banging at my door, saying they were the Des Moines Police; after they were inside, they said were ICE,” said Victor Torres, a CCI member. “Two of us were arrested that day for being undocumented, and if it weren’t because my young son is a U.S. citizen, I wouldn’t even be here today,” he told the Congressman.

After sharing their experiences as immigrants in Iowa, CCI members asked Rep. Latham whether he supported a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million hopeful Americans.

Rep. Latham simply refused, and said he would approach immigration reform “step by step”,  with a focus on “border security and a system of verification” before any type of legalization could happen. Latham said he did not want to repeat the mistakes of 1986.

Jose Gutierrez, a CCI member and immigrant from Mexico who has lived in the US for over 30 years, told Rep. Latham that 1986 had not been a mistake. “If it weren’t for immigrants like me coming here, paying taxes, building roads, we would not be standing in the beautiful state that Iowa is today,” Gutierrez said. “I am proud to walk the streets of Iowa as a US citizen. What happened in 1986 was not a mistake.”

“A majority of Iowans support a path to citizenship, but Rep. Latham kept skirting around the issue and refusing. In the end, we heard he would not support a pathway to citizenship,” said Elvira Guerrero, a CCI member from Des Moines.

Members of Iowa CCI vow to keep the pressure on their members of congress during the August recess and push for fair immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship that will keep families together and protect the rights of 11 million hopeful Americans.

“What we have here is true solidarity, Iowans standing with our immigrant neighbors. Standing together, we will keep pushing to get the pathway to citizenship,” said CCI member Gini Wolf, from Ankeny.

Check out photos from the day here:

 
 

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