|TACOMA, WA – June 11, 2003 – In more than 35 actions
nationwide, from Labor Ready’s annual shareholder meeting in Tacoma, WA to
Washington, D.C., in Boston and Chicago, from San Diego to New York,
activists are meeting with Labor Ready shareholders and branch office
staff. The actions are coordinated by the National Coalition for the
Homeless (NCH), the North American Alliance for Fair Employment (NAFFE)
and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON).
“With hundreds of thousands of workers now seeking employment on a daily basis, we expect them to be treated fairly,” said Kim Foltz, a NAFFE co-coordinator. “Specifically, we expect agencies like Labor Ready to stop taking money out of workers’ pockets. This means eliminating fees for check cashing, transportation and safety equipment. It also means ending discrimination on the basis of race, gender and national origin,” she added.
Labor Ready’s Practices Keep Workers Impoverished
The organizations are also concerned with Labor Ready’s aggressive attempts to change laws to its benefit. In Arizona, Governor Janet Napolitano recently vetoed legislation that would reverse Arizona law to allow companies like Labor Ready to charge check-cashing fees. “Workers are seeking opportunities to help themselves out of poverty and homelessness,” says Karin Uhlich of the Southwest Center of Economic Integrity (Tucson, AZ), “Instead, Labor Ready wants to skim between 4% and 5% of workers’ already low wages just for cashing their pay checks! In Arizona, that would amount to the extraction of roughly $10,000 every month from impoverished workers in the state, according to a lawsuit filed by the Arizona Attorney General's office.”
Labor Ready’s abuses of workers in the form of wage and hour violations have been taken up by several organizations, including the Western Massachusetts-based, Anti-Displacement Project (ADP). Archie Arguello, leader of ADP’s Worker Organizing Committee notes that, “ADP has met with the state Attorney General’s office, has brought cases to the attention of the National Labor Relations Board and continues to maintain a presence outside of Labor Ready branch offices in three cities. ADP plans to keep the pressure up as long as it takes for Labor Ready to treat workers decently.”
Challenge to an entire industry
As the day labor industry has grown, so too have non-profit alternatives to the for-profit agencies. Pablo Alvarado, NDLON Coordinator, expects “all agencies to treat workers with respect.” Adding, “We are committed to upholding labor standards across the board, including in non-profit hiring halls. Labor Ready, as the industry leader, must be held accountable to the law and community expectations.”
About NAFFE, NCH and NDLON
NAFFE is a network of 65 organizations concerned about the rise of contingent work and its impact on all workers; NCH is an educational, advocacy and organizing coalition aiming to end homelessness; NDLON’s mission is to strengthen and expand the work of local day laborer organizing groups, in order to become more effective and strategic in building leadership, advancing low-wage worker and immigrant rights, and develop successful models for organizing immigrant contingent/temporary workers.
Hosted by the North American Alliance for Fair Employment.