Labor News Round-Up: Guest Workers Strike, NYC Construction Unions Fund Public Union Attacks
A group of Mexican guest workers working under H-2B guest visas involved in processing shrimp went on strike in Louisiana. From Labor Notes:
…a group of Mexican guest workers at a seafood processor in Louisiana walked off the job, driven to the wall by just the kinds of conditions detailed in the report.
Workers who peel crawfish for C.J.’s Seafood in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, confronted their boss on Monday after weeks of abuse and mistreatment, said Jacob Horowitz of the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA). They were forced to work shifts of up to 24 hours and threatened with shovels, the Alliance said.
About 40 workers came to the U.S. to work for C.J.’s under H-2B guest worker visas, which typically last nine months. But supervisors didn’t let workers take breaks, and they were cheated out of overtime pay, said Ana Diaz, one of the workers.
“When we wanted to take breaks the supervisor threatened to hit us,” Diaz said through a translator. “When one of our co-workers called the police because she couldn’t take the treatment, then our boss threatened to hurt our families.”
A new report shows that New York’s construction unions were major contributors to an organization tasked with attacking public employees in New York. From the New York Times:
Backed with millions of dollars in contributions from business, the Committee to Save New York has been Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s most important ally in his battles with public-sector unions over government spending, pensions and teacher accountability.
But the committee turns out to have another source of money: a group of building trade unions who contributed $500,000 last year. Their decision to back Mr. Cuomo — and help finance an offensive against their public-sector brethren — illuminates a deepening fissure in the labor movement.
Labor officials said the union contributions to the business group in 2011, which were revealed in records filed with the federal Labor Department and interviews with people familiar with the donations, reflected workers’ deep unease about a slowdown in the construction industry in New York and their hope that Mr. Cuomo and the business committee could persuade voters and lawmakers to support publicly financed building projects and encourage growth.