workers' rights

Tag archives for workers’ rights

Sharon Thomas-Ellison works hard for her paychecks at Jimmy John’s. On occasion when no one else is available, the 19-year-old has worked from 11 in the morning until 1 a.m. at night with just a 30-minute break — and it’s okay, she says, she needs the extra income.

The collective experience of domestic workers — house cleaners, nannies and caregivers — often remains hidden from view. But a new survey has pulled back the curtain on the conditions and experiences domestic workers face, documenting issues such as wage exploitation, preventable on-the-job injuries and the little — if any — power domestic workers have in improving their work environments.

For six months, Jorge Rubio worked at a local chain of tortilla bakeries and taquerias in the cities of Brownsville and San Benito, both in the very southern tip of Texas. Rubio, 42, prepared the food, cleaned equipment, served customers. Eventually, he decided to quit after being overworked for months. On his last day of work, his employer refused to pay him the usual $50 for an 11-hour workday.

In the fall of 2011, a new Texas statute took effect against employers who engage in wage theft, putting in place real consequences for employers found guilty of stealing wages from workers. It was a big step forward in a state where wage theft has become as common as cowboy boots and pick-up trucks. It was especially good news for workers in El Paso, where wage theft has become so rampant that workers rights advocates have dubbed it an “epidemic.”