MAYOR IMPROVES BUILDING PERMIT PROCESS, IGNORES WORKERS’ RIGHTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASErnrnContact: Pedro Cruz, 202.445.0411rnrnOctober 14, 2008rnrnMAYOR IMPROVES BUILDING PERMIT PROCESS, IGNORES WORKERS’ RIGHTSrnrnWASHINGTON DC–As Mayor Fenty launches the District’s first online permit service at Home Depot today, members and allies of the DC Workers’ Union will rally outside the store at 10:00am to demand greater enforcement of unpaid wage violations.rnrnThroughout the District, contingent workers hired by the same contractors who request building permits, suffer from stolen wages. “Wage theft is a chronic and severe form of exploitation of day laborers,” Sarahi Uribe of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “Every day, laborers are either completely denied wages for work performed or underpaid. A national study in 2006 revealed that nearly half of all day laborers have been the victim of wage theft.”rnrnWhile the Mayor has significant power to enforce the Minimum Wage Act, workers’ rights groups and their advocates claim that Fenty has done little to address this chronic problem. “The Office of Wage-Hour simply has no teeth,” explains Pedro Cruz, day laborer organizer with DC Jobs with Justice. “For years we tried to broach this issue with the Mayor, to no avail. It’s time for the Mayor to do the right thing, to improve the quality of services provided, extend outreach to the immigrant community, enforce the existing wage and hour regulation, prosecute those employers who violate the regulation, and shift the burden of proof away from the victim and onto the perpetrator.” rnrnJimmy Alvarado, member of the DC Workers’ Union elaborates, “I went to the office because I thought I would be able to recoup my wages, or at least stop my employer from exploiting someone else. But when I got there, they told me I needed to show more proof. I went back a second time, but all the office did was send a letter to the contractor. I have yet to see one cent of my wages, and in the meantime can’t afford to keep taking time off to visit the office.” The rally will be followed by a press conference at noon.rnrnWHO: DC Workers’ Union members and allies.rnWHERE: Home Depot Parking Lot, 901 Rhode Island Ave, NErnWHEN: Tuesday, October 14, 2008rn10:00am: rally. 12:00pm: press conference.rnrn###rn

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