For immediate release
Low-wage Immigrant Women Call Out Workplace Sexual Harassment
Release video to share stories, train workers
While celebrities, elected officials, and heads of corporations remain in the headlines, low-wage workers–especially women of color and immigrants--remain on the frontlines of sexual harassment and abuse at work. At the same time, low-wage working women are on the frontlines of organizing for change and fighting back against sexual harassment.
The country is in an important cultural moment, with brave women speaking out against men in powerful positions. At the same time, low-wage workers who face high levels of harassment and abuse often remain in the shadows. Arise Chicago and other local and national worker organizations are proud to support low-wage immigrant women and women of color as they speak out against sexual harassment and challenge common power dynamics in the workplace .
To bring to light the stories of women from across low-wage industries, worker members from Arise Chicago created a video on their own experiences of sexual harassment. Arise members shared stories and advice in hopes of reaching other women–to help break societal stigma and fear, and to educate workers on what to do in cases of harassment on the job.
Arise worker leader, Martina Sanchez sees the growing outcry from workers as a turning point in the fight against sexual harassment. “There are thousands of women who remain silent out of a variety of fears--fear of what will be said about them, fear of losing their job, or worst of all, fear they won’t be listened to and nothing will change. But this moment is the beginning of a new struggle.”
Arise Chicago board member and domestic worker leader, Isabel Escobar agrees, “This is a very sad time for our country, but also a very important time. A door has opened for more women like me to speak out.” Escobar also emphasized the importance of low-wage workers to speak up, “We want to let people know that this doesn’t just happen to famous women. Abuse is not only committed by famous men in high power positions. Sexual harassment happens every day to low-wage workers, to immigrants, to women of color. And bosses, supervisors, feel they have power over our work, our income. Therefore, many women are afraid to speak up or afraid no one will believe us.”
Escobar herself faced multiple instances of sexual harassment as a home cleaner. Yet, she remains determined to make change for herself and other workers. “I encourage other women to speak up. Nothing will change if we stay quiet. Now is the time to talk. Now is the time to be strong and unite to end sexual harassment at work.”
Arise board member, and worker leader, Rocio Caravantes who also experienced harassment at work echoes the sentiment that now is the time for women to act. “If we speak up now, we will be creating a better path forward for the next generation of women workers.”
*Contact Shelly Ruzicka to arrange interviews.
Arise Chicago is a worker right organization that educates, organizes, and develops the leadership of low-wage workers–primarily immigrant women–across Chicagoland. Arise Chicago was founded in 1991 to support workers organizing to creating better workplaces through unionization, and opened its Worker Center in 2002 to support non-union, primarily immigrant workers to recover stolen wages and end workplace abuse. Since 2002, Arise worker members have taken action to recover more than $7.5 million in stolen wages and compensation. Since 2013, Arise Chicago and its worker members have been on the forefront of creating systemic change for low-wage workers, by winning the historic Chicago and Cook County Anti-Wage Theft Ordinances, and in coalition winning Chicago and Cook County Paid Sick Days and the Illinois Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Arise Chicago is currently leading the effort to open a Chicago Office of Labor Standards to ensure city protections for workers are effectively enforced.