Huge Step Forward for Immigrant Protections in New IWA Contract

NYHTC — March 26, 2012


Albor Ruiz, a reporter who has written many stories on immigration for the New York Daily News, highlighted our new immigrant protection contract language in a recent article, saying that it "...provides important groundbreaking protections for immigrant workers which could -- and should -- become a model for future contracts."

Corporate America benefits from an immigration policy that criminalizes the immigrant worker. Bosses purposely hire undocumented workers, knowing that their fear of being "discovered" will make them unlikely to complain about abusive conditions or organize a union.

In the non-union hotel industry, this practice is widespread. Management hires immigrant workers in order to break the law with near impunity. They routinely violate state and federal labor laws, paying immigrants in the same position as non-immigrants less money for the same work -- oftentimes less than minimum wage -- failing to pay overtime, and denying workers breaks. When immigrant workers find the incredible courage to ask management for the rights that are promised to them under the law, management retaliates by using their immigration status, acceptable when hired, as a weapon to silence them with fear. As a means of doing this, they will closely scrutinize and find fault in the workers' documents, the same documents that passed muster with management when they were hired.

Our contract already included strong protections for immigrant workers. Knowing too well the abuses immigrants face in the workplace, we fought for substantially stronger immigrant protections during the most recent negotiations and won.

We do not know of any other union contract that has stronger protections for immigrant workers than our new IWA contract. Under Article 67 of the new contract, employers cannot use work authorization to retaliate against our members for union activity. And unless required by law, the employer cannot re-verify unexpired authorization documents that are facially valid.

Please click on the following link to read Albor Ruiz's article.

Ruiz, Albor. New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council contract groundbreaking for immigrant workers. New York Daily News. March 4, 2012.