CALEXICO – In an effort to increase awareness and inform the Mexican and Latino communities about their fundamental labor rights, the Mexican Consulate held a press conference, Monday morning, at the Carnegie Library in Calexico initiating the “Labor Rights’ Week (LRW).”
Labor Rights’ Week has evolved from a well-known initiative that the community regards as an additional resource for the defense of their rights. The increasing number of people participating every year points toward the success of the initiative.
The first Labor Rights’ Week was organized in 2009 with the participation of 15 Mexican Consulates in an equal number of cities, which included a total of 169 events, totaling 18,750 people, followed by 829 cases the Consulate followed. The inauguration took place in Los Angeles, CA with the presence of then U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis.
“This campaign is designed to educate the Mexican/Latino workers of their labor rights. We have seen cases where workers aren’t paid according to the law. Employees or in some cases, day laborers, are forced to work long hours without proper pay, breaks, and or lunch times,” said Carlos Flores Vizcarra, Consul Titular, Mexican Consulate in Calexico.
Regardless of the legal status, every employee in the U.S., including day laborers, have a right to know and exercise their legal rights.
The legal framework for the Labor Rights’ Week is the Joint Declaration between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico and the Department of Labor of the United States of America, origionally signed in 2004 and renewed in 2014.
“I have rights in the workplace” reinforces the idea that all workers have rights regardless of their immigration status or sector they work in, according to the consular.
“Labor Rights’ Week, I have rights in the Workplace runs from August 31, through September 7, and will be held in the 51 U.S. cities where Mexico has a Consulate, and in some cases in other cities within the geographical jurisdiction of these consular offices. In addition to these venues, activities will be conducted at local fairs, churches, and mobile consulates throughout the week,” explained Vizcarra.
“In the last twelve months we have seen between 6-8 cases in Imperial County that involved laborers injured on the job and not given the proper medical attention, workers compensation, and or workers compensation dropped the case prior to their recuperation,” said Luis Benjamin Lara Escobedo, Consul for Protection and Legal Affairs.
Months before the beginning of the LRW activities, the Embassy of Mexico in the United States worked with the Department of Labor and its agencies, Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) and Wage and Hour Division (WHD), as well as with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and other participating counties to agree on the theme, dates and plan the LRW activities.
“The U.S. Department of Wage and Hour Division, a Federal agency, has partnered up with the Mexican Consulate to reach out to all Mexican workers regardless of their legal status and inform them of their legal rights as laborers in the U.S. We support the Mexican Consulate and will join them in this Labor Rights’ Weeks throughout the U.S.,” said Rosanna Santana, U.S. Department of Wage and Hour Division.
The activities of the Labor Rights Week will aim to reach out to:
1) Mexican workers that are just entering or already participating in the workforce
2) Link the promotion of educational programs with the professional and labor development of DACA youth, and to those people that have received a U or T Visa
3) Empower Mexican nationals through a better knowledge of their labor rights
4) Disseminate the message that protecting labor rights is in the common interest of the employer, the employee, his family and the community
5) Ratify alliances with labor authorities at the local level and with community and union leaders
6) Widely disseminate the message that it is priority of the Government of Mexico, through its consular representations, to offer consular assistance to those Mexican workers whose labor rights have been violated
7) Take Labor Rights’ Week 2015 events as an opportunity to widely disseminate information about DACA, in the understanding that there are potential beneficiaries that work and a lot enrolled in an academic program, and assume they cannot apply for DACA
8) Bolster the outreach to Mexicans with temporary working visas like H2A and H2B, as well as to their employers.
On April 3, 2014, Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, represented by Ambassador Eduardo Medina-Mora, and Department of Labor, represented by its Secretary Thomas Perez, renewed the Joint Declaration that calls on the participants to work together to inform Mexican workers in the United States about their labor rights.