Each Labor Day weekend Arise Chicago and the Chicago Federation of Labor organize the Labor in the Pulpit/on the Bima/in the Minbar. This year we will be present in 112 services.
City, County, State Electeds Alert Employers and Workers amidst “No Match” Crisis.
Warn negative employer action can have legal consequences; cite “No Match” as attack on working families
At a rally filled with music and celebration, teachers from the Old Town School of Folk Music announced today that an overwhelming majority of faculty have signed cards to form a union with the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) and have a greater voice to address issues in their workplace.
Chicago Office Of Labor Standards Passes Workforce Committee
Workers Clear Final Hurdle before full Council VoteRead more
Arise organizers observed a disturbing trend in long-term negative impacts on workers and their families after a worker was injured on the job. In addition to living with long-term or permanent pain, members shared other physical and mental health issues, as well as financial difficulties, and strain on family relationships.
Due to the holiday on Friday, July 4th the city will be altering the garbage pick-up schedule for the week. The Department of
Ward Night has been cancelled tonight, 5/19. I apologize for any inconvenience.
- Within the first days of the new administration President Trump, through executive orders and reckless rhetoric, has initiated unprecedented and cruel attacks on immigrants and refugees;
- Some employers already feel emboldened by the new administration to further unleash unlawful and immoral attacks on immigrant workers;
- Women workers have become increasingly vulnerable to sexual harassment in the workplace;
- 26 states have “Right to Work” laws in place with additional states poised to follow suit;
- The nomination of a new labor secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor appears to signal the imminent weakening or dismantling of the Department, including the NLRB, OSHA, and EEOC protections, and the emboldening of similar moves by state legislatures, signaling a renewed and intensified war on working people;
- Our Muslim brothers and sisters have been targeted by the new administration, emboldening hate crimes against them and rumors of a mandatory Muslim registry, all of which greatly impacts Muslim workers, their families and their advocates;
- Our Black sisters and brothers continue to face police brutality and racist enforcement and criminal justice practices and institutions, and inappropriate language and generalized statements from the White House;
- All of the above are a complete contradiction to the spirit and/or the letter of the U.S. Constitution and the basic tenets of all faith traditions.
- Arise Chicago is an organization based in low-wage worker and faith communities, with a membership of individual low-wage workers of color and immigrants, and of congregations from a variety of socio-economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Let it be resolved that Arise Chicago will:
- Educate, protect, and act in support of our individual worker members and congregation members;
- Stand against workplace raids and will deploy all of its resources in support of workers and their families when such raids occur;
- Train immigrant workers on their rights in the workplace, including preparedness for a workplace raid;
- Train women workers on how to avoid, combat, and report sexual harassment in the workplace, and how to create fair and safe workplaces;
- Broaden and deepen its alliance with groups that advocate for the rights of immigrants, Black, and Muslim working people;
- Create Rapid Response Teams to respond to all emergency situations regarding immigrants and Muslim workers;
- Advocate for public policies that offer explicit language regarding protection for immigrant workers and workers of all faith traditions;
- Educate unions, allies, congregations, lawyers, etc. on the lawful protections workers have in the workplace;
- Track and communicate all changes that occur in government that impact immigrant workers, including the Morton Memo that currently protects workers from ICE while in a labor dispute;
- Assist congregations in deepening their understanding of how their faith traditions and Scriptures call on all of us to stand with the oppressed and persecuted.
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Car Wash Owner Files for Bankruptcy to
Avoid Paying $262,901 Owed to Workers
Jorge Mújica, Arise Chicago
Eight former workers from Little Village Carwash were shocked and outraged this morning when they found out that their former employer, Octavio Rodriguez, instead of presenting his case in Cook County Court, decided to file bankruptcy to avoid paying the $262,000 in wages and damages as ordered by the Illinois Department of Labor.
“When I found out the owner filed for bankruptcy, I felt scammed. We know that he owns other businesses, including two restaurants. He has the money” said former “carwashero” Miguel Angel Martinez. “When we filed our claim for owed wages, Octavio told us he’d rather pay a lawyer than give us a penny. But he has the money and the government said he had to pay.”
“We thought the wait for our wages was over after more than three years, and instead find ourselves at the beginning of a new legal battle,” says former Little Village worker Alfredo Ramirez.
“Owner of the former Little Village Car Wash, Octavio Rodriguez owns several houses and buildings, an upscale Mexican restaurantin suburban Summit, and a pizzeria in Chicago. He sold the car wash last year for $1.5 million. He has the money, but simply does not want to pay his former workers,” said Jorge Mújica, an organizer with Arise Chicago, who has supported the workers in their nearly four-year pursuit of justice.
Like other abusive employers, Octavio Rodriguez used loopholes in the law to avoid paying workers their legally owed wages.
“Unfortunately, this is a practice is all too common among employers of low-wage workers”, said Sophia Zaman, Executive Director of Raise the Floor. Cases like Little Village Car Wash have inspired Arise Chicago and seven other Chicago-area worker centers, under the Raise the Floor Alliance umbrella, to introduce HB 1290. This bill would allow workers to place a wage lien on employers to prevent them from moving or selling assets in order to avoid payment of owed wages to workers. Additionally, it would prioritize workers’ claims for wages over the claims of other creditors when employers declare bankruptcy.
The former Little Village Car Wash workers voiced their support for HB1290. Had it been in effect now, they would have the ability to collect the legally owed wages and damages awarded by the Illinois Department of Labor.
Arise Chicago first started supporting the Little Village Car Wash workers in 2011. After training workers on their rights, Arise found that the owner had systematized extreme wage theft. Rather than pay the legally required minimum hourly wage, car wash owner Octavio Rodriguez divided $5 per car washed among all workers in the crew, regardless of the number working. This often meant workers received 50 cents per car, and on slow work days, went home with as little as $20 for an entire 12-hour day of work.
Workers first filed claims with the US Department of Labor in 2011, won their claims, and the owner began paying correctly. However, after six months, Rodriguez went back to his old practices of stealing wages. Trained and supported by Arise Chicago, the workers then filed claims with the Illinois Department of Labor in late 2012. In May 2013 the workers won their claim, with IDOL ruling that they were entitled to back pay and damages, totaling $262,901. Because the owner never paid, the Illinois Attorney General sued him in October of 2014. The workers had a court date for Thursday, May 19, where they expected to hear a ruling from a Cook County Circuit Court judge on payment up to $262,901. Instead, they received news that their former employer was skirting his legal obligation by filing for bankruptcy.
The full Illinois Attorney General lawsuit can be found here.
Photos from Wednesday May 19, 2016 press conference and previous worker actions in 2011 and 2013 are available upon request.
Interviews with workers available upon request.