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Broward, segundo condado de la Florida en actuar contra el robo de salarios

25 Oct

Otra victoria contra el robo de salarios!!!

El martes en la tarde, la Junta de Comisionados del Condado de Broward aprobó una Ordenanza para la Recuperación Salarial. Esta ordenanza ayudará a miles de trabajadores en el condado de Broward que actualmente no tienen a quién recurrir cuando no les pagan sus salarios.

Broward es ahora oficialmente el segundo condado en la Florida en poner en práctica esta iniciativa. Miami-Dade fue el primero en hacerlo cuando aprobó su ordenanza en 2010, y hasta ahora ha recuperado, a través de conciliación, $ 511,429.26 en salarios no pagados.

Ganamos una batalla, pero la guerra continúa. La Florida es actualmente uno de los peores estados en el país a la hora de proteger a los trabajadores contra el robo de salarios –que incluye los trabajadores que no cobran horas extras ni el salario mínimo, aquellos que se ven obligados a trabajar fuera de horario, o aquellos a quienes no les pagan en absoluto. Por qué? Porque no hay un Departamento de Trabajo a nivel estatal y la gran mayoría de los trabajadores no están cubiertos por las leyes federales. El condado de Broward tiene actualmente el tercer mayor número de casos en la Florida: cerca de 5.000 sólo en los últimos tres años.

Isabel Fernandez, de Dania Beach, FL en la reunión de la Comisión de Broward

Estuve en la reunión de ayer pidiendo a los Comisionados que votaran a favor de la ordenanza. Hable en nombre de mis amigos cercanos que han sido víctimas de robo de salario en Broward y no han sido capaces de recuperar sus salarios después de meses“, dice María Isabel Fernández, residente de Dania Beach, en el condado de Broward. “Me emocioné cuando supe que la Ordenanza pasó! Puede ser demasiado tarde para mis amigos, pero en el futuro va a ayudar a otras personas como ellos que ahora tendrán la posibilidad de recuperar sus salarios sin tener que contratar a un abogado o esperar meses sin ningún tipo de ingresos“.

Además de María Isabel, más de 16 personas se enlistaron para hablar durante la reunión, incluidos miembros de la comunidad y defensores de los derechos de los trabajadores. Los representantes de las asociaciones y cámaras empresariales, así como algunos comisionados, insistieron en desestimar la magnitud del problema diciendo que eran sólo “unas pocas manzanas podridas”, que ya existían leyes federales que protegían a la mayoría de los trabajadores, y que Broward solo necesitaba brindarles asistencia legal a las víctimas de robo de salario cuando decidían llevar su caso a la corte.

Afortunadamente, expertos en el tema que estaban presentes pudieron corregir esos malos entendidos. La abogada del condado confirmó que las leyes estatales y federales no cubren a todos los trabajadores, y cuando lo hacen, no los cubre de forma equitativa. Y el mejor comentario de uno de los asistentes, fue: “si esta ordenanza no es necesaria, ¿por qué Miami-Dade ha podido recuperar tanto dinero en salarios no pagados gracias a su propia ordenanza?

Esta victoria se debe gracias al Grupo de Trabajo contra el Robo de Salarios de la Florida, una coalición de organizaciones y personas que trabajan noche y día para parar el robo de salarios!

Necesitamos parar el robo de salarios de una buena vez, y tú nos puedes ayudar! 

Si tu o alguien que conoces, han sido víctimas de robo de salarios en cualquier parte de la Florida, comparte tu historia con nosotros en Facebook o envía un mensaje a natalia@floridaimmigrant.org

 

Broward, second County in Florida to take action against Wage Theft!

24 Oct

Another victory against wage theft!!!

Yesterday evening, the Broward County Board of Commissioners stood up for workers and honest businesses by approving a Wage Recovery Ordinance that will help thousands of workers in Broward County who currently have nowhere to turn when they are not paid.

Broward is now officially the second county in Florida to implement this program. Miami-Dade passed the first Ordinance in Florida back in 2010 and so far has been able to recover $511,429.26 in unpaid wages through conciliation.

Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of work to do. Florida is still one of the worst states in the country when it comes to wage theft cases -which include workers who are not paid overtime or minimum wage, are forced to work off the clock, or are not paid at all. Why? Because there is no state level Department of Labor and a vast majority of workers are not covered by federal wage and hour laws. Broward County, alone, has the third largest number in the state with nearly 5,000 cases only in the last three years.

Isabel Fernandez, from Dania Beach, FL at the Broward Commission meeting

I was at the meeting yesterday asking Commissioners to vote yes for the Ordinance, speaking on behalf of my close friends who are victims of wage theft in our county and haven’t been able to recover their wages after months of effort,” says Maria Isabel Fernandez, a resident of Dania Beach in Broward County. “I was thrilled when the Ordinance passed! It may be too late for my friends, but it will help other people like them in the future who will now have the possibility of recovering the salaries they earned through their work without having to hire a lawyer and wait months without any income.”

Along with Maria Isabel, over 16 speakers signed up for public input, including community members and advocates. Representatives of business associations and chambers, as well as some Commissioners, insisted on dismissing the magnitude of the problem saying there were only “a few bad apples,” that federal laws were already in place to protect the majority of workers, and that all Broward needed to do was to provide legal aid for those workers who wanted to take their case to the already busy court system.

Luckily some experts in the room were able to correct those misunderstandings. But the best remark was done by one of the participants in the public, “if this ordinance wasn’t necessary, why has Miami-Dade been able to recover so much in unpaid wages with its ordinance?

These victory is thanks to the work of the Florida Wage Theft Task Force, a coalition of organizations and people that work day and night to stop the epidemic of wage theft in the sunshine state. Congratulations team!!!

As we said, the work has just begun! Still thousands of workers in our state work without being paid enough or at all.

We need to STOP WAGE THEFT, and you can help us!

If you or someone you know has been a victim of wage theft, share your story with us. Post a comment on our Facebook page, or send us an e-mail: francesca@floridaimmigrant.org

Despite restrictions, groups register more than 100,000 Florida voters!

12 Oct

FLIC canvassers registering New American voters in Broward County.
Photo: Getty Images

Voting rights advocates have registered more than 100,000 voters prior to the state’s registration deadline, despite extensive efforts by state officials to limit new registrations for Florida citizens.

Florida New Majority, SEIU Florida State Council, Florida Mi Familia Vota, Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), Florida National Action Network and the National Council of La Raza collaborated for the registration milestone.  The majority of the registrations occurred in the month before the state’s Oct. 9 registration deadline and after a federal judge’s late summer decision to overturn a new state law that placed restrictions on groups involved in voter registration drives.

“Ultimately, the effort to limit voter registration was overturned by the courts, but defeated by the work of people committed to ensuring every eligible voter has the opportunity to vote in the upcoming election,” said Gihan Perera, executive director of Florida New Majority. “Today, 100,000 more people will be able to exercise their right to participate in their democracy.”

The purpose of the new law’s was made clear with the resulting drop in registrations.  According to one news report, registrations over the past two presidential cycles averaged more than 200,000 new Democrats in the year before the election (July 1 to July 31). This year, that number had fallen to just over 11,000.

The law was so restrictive that it led the state to threaten a New Smyrna Beach high school teacher with thousands of dollars in fines as a result of registering her students to vote in 2011.

“As Americans, we cherish the right to vote and it is thrilling, especially for new citizens, to be active participants in electing our political leaders,” said Yulissa M. Arce, Mi Familia Vota’s Florida State Coordinator.  “After the state created purge lists filled with errors and the attempts to curtail registrations, Latinos in Florida are even more committed not only to registering, but to voting in 2012.”

The registration totals show that eligible voters are determined to participate in the election, despite a flurry of activity by legislators and state officials to limit access to voting, said Kathy Bird of the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC).

“Despite these organized efforts to curb Latino participation through restrictions on third-party groups and voter purges, NCLR is proud to have  been able to register over 54,000 Hispanics to vote in the upcoming election,” said Jared Nordlund, Deputy Director, Field Campaigns.  “Now we look forward to turning our efforts to encouraging Florida Hispanics to take advantage of voting early and ensuring their votes count.”

“During the past month, we have worked with voters in various counties in Florida inviting them to stand up for their families and communities and vote,” Bird said. “In the weeks before the election, we will be working with voters to make sure they have all the information they need and that they feel empowered to go to the polls.”

This month, Florida New Majority and SEIU Florida State Council, Florida Mi Familia Vota and (FLIC) will turn their attention to early voting, which begins Oct. 27.   Voters can also vote by absentee ballot, which can be requested through local supervisors of election.

Any voters facing challenges with registration or with voting can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE for assistance or 1-888-Ve-Y-Vota for the assistance in Spanish.

Será Jose Manuel el primer abogado indocumentado de la Florida?

1 Oct

SE TESTIGO DE ESTE MOMENTO HISTÓRICO! Martes 2 de octubre de 9:00 a 9:40 a.m.

Mañana por la mañana, la Coalición de Inmigrantes de la Florida junto a amigos en toda la nación, estaremos pegados a nuestras pantalla, apoyando a José Manuel Godinez-Samperio mientras su caso es escuchado en la Corte Suprema de la Florida.

La Corte escuchará los argumentos sobre si José Manuel, un inmigrante indocumentado, puede ser admitido al Colegio de Abogados de la Florida para ejercer como abogado. José Manuel tendrá el honor de tener al distinguido Prof. Sandy D’Alemberte argumentando a su favor. El Prof. D’Alemberte, autor de la Constitución de la Florida, fue presidente de la American Bar Association, Presidente del FSU y Decano de la Facultad de Derecho.

Sé testigo de este momento histórico mañana haciendo clic aquí.

José Manuel nació en México y llegó a la Florida con sus padres a la edad de 9 años. A través de los años él se esforzó, superando muchos obstáculos para continuar su educación. En 2007, después de graduarse de New College y de involucrarse en el movimiento pro-inmigrante, solicitó a la Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad Estatal de la Florida (FSU), admitiendo en su ensayo el hecho de ser indocumentado. Después de graduarse y pasar el examen de la barra, solicitó ser admitido al Colegio de Abogados de Florida, pero esta institución ahora delegado el asunto a manos de la Corte Suprema de la Florida.

Estas son algunas breves palabras de José Manuel en la víspera de su juicio:

“Me siento ansioso, pero también animado por el apoyo abrumador, no sólo desde el movimiento pro-inmigrante, sino incluso de aquellos que normalmente adoptan sentimientos anti-inmigrantes. Mañana espero tener siete jueces imparciales haciendo un montón de preguntas diferentes. Espero que vean que he cumplido con todos los requisitos. Si me aceptan, me sentiría extraordinario. Podré ser un abogado y practicar derecho; la justicia siempre ha sido muy importante para mí. ¿Que si alguna vez dudé de poder llegar a ser un abogado? Todo el tiempo. Semestre tras semestre, me pregunté cómo podría pagar la matrícula; estudiaba, pero sin saber si iba a poder tomar el examen de la barra. Pero mi familia me inspiró. “El NO ya lo TIENES”, dijeron. Si yo lo intento, podría tener un tal vez; sin saber a ciencia cierta pero siempre avanzando. Yo obtengo mi fuerza de Dios. Si es su voluntad, va a suceder. Mi mensaje para todos nosotros es no darnos por vencidos. Sigamos intentándolo. Tenemos que ganar a todos los niveles. En última instancia, necesitamos una reforma migratoria federal”.

Damos las gracias a José Manuel y todos aquellos que se enfrentan a la exclusión, pero tienen el coraje y la fuerza para defender la dignidad y la libertad. Reciban nuestras oraciones y que su ejemplo nos inspire a todos a la acción.

Haz click en este enlace para ver la audiencia en el caso de José Manuel: http://www.wfsu.org/gavel2gavel/index.php

Will Jose Manuel be the first undocumented lawyer in Florida?

1 Oct

WITNESS HISTORY!  Tuesday, October 2nd, 9 am to 9:40 am

Tomorrow morning, the Florida Immigrant Coalition and other friends across the nation, will be glued to our computer screens, standing with Jose Manuel Godinez-Sampeiro ashis case is heard at the Florida Supreme Court.

The Court will hear arguments on whether Jose Manuel, an undocumented immigrant, can be admitted to the Florida Bar to practice law. Jose Manuel is honored to have the Distinguished Prof. Sandy D’Alemberte arguing in his favor. Prof. D’Alemberte authored the Florida Constitution, was President of the American Bar Association, President of FSU and Dean of the Law School.

You can witness part of history tomorrow by clicking here.

Jose Manuel was born in Mexico and came to Florida with his parents at the age of 9. Through the years he endeavored, overcoming many obstacles to pursue his education. Back in 2007, after graduating from New College and becoming involved with the immigrant rights movement, he applied to Florida State University (FSU) Law School, admitting in his application essay to being undocumented. After graduating and passing the Bar exam, he solicited to be admitted to the Florida Bar. Now The Florida Bar is referring the question to the Florida Supreme Court.

Below are brief words from Jose Manuel on the eve of his court case:

“I am feeling anxious, but also encouraged by overwhelming support; not just from the immigrant rights movement, but even from those who normally espouse anti-immigrant sentiment. Tomorrow I expect to have seven impartial Justices asking a lot of different questions. I hope they see that I have complied with all the requirements. If I get admitted, I would feel extraordinary. I would be able to be a lawyer and practice law, which is about justice and justice has always been very important to me. Did I ever doubt I could become a lawyer? All the time. Semester after semester, I wondered if and how I could afford to pay tuition; studying but never knowing whether I would be allowed to take the Bar exam. But my family inspired me. “El NO ya lo tienes”, they said. If I gave it a shot, I would have a maybe, not knowing but continuing forward. I get my strength from God. If it is His will, it will happen. My message to all of us is don’t give up. Keep trying. We have to win at all levels. Ultimately, we need federal immigration reform.”

We are grateful to Jose Manuel and all those who face exclusion but find the courage and strength to stand for dignity and freedom. May they receive our prayers and may their example inspire us all to action.

Click on this link to hear the arguments in Jose Manuel’s case: http://www.wfsu.org/gavel2gavel/index.php

In Florida, we put people before politicians

12 Jun

By: Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director from the Florida Immigrant Coalition 

Via Huffington Post

We are often told that Republicans don’t care about immigrants or working people. They only care about the 1 percent. Democrats, on the other hand, truly want what is best for both. If that is the case, then these are strange times in South Florida.

On Thursday, I attended a protest in front of Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s offices in Aventura. Rep. Wasserman Schultz is the chair of the Democratic National Committee and one of the most powerful Democrats in D.C. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), on the other hand, is the powerful private prison company trying to build the largest for-profit immigrant detention center in a sleepy town in Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s district known as Southwest Ranches. Opposition to the facility is so overwhelming that only a few people have voiced support for it in any poll, town hall meeting or public hearing on the issue. It is not just immigrant rights activists opposing either, but people from all walks of life like the environmentalist Sierra Club, the ball-playing resident Udonis Haslem, the DREAM ACT-defying former Senator George Lemieux, the ACLU and thousands of others.

You would think that the democratic thing for Rep. Wasserman Schultz to do, in the face of such overwhelming opposition, would be to take a stand against the center. Instead, she has spent the last year doubling down for CCA, while refusing to meet with constituents.

A day before the Aventura rally, high school valedictorian Daniela Pelaez attended a press conference hosted by Republican Rep. David Rivera. Earlier this year, Daniela’s name brought national attention and thousands of people into the streets to stop her from being deported. This time, however, she wasn’t at the press conference to protest, but to stand, albeit lonely-looking, with the controversial congressman as he unveiled his DREAM ACT alternative. Rivera’s STARS ACT would allow some College-going undocumented youth a chance to stay in the country, but with so many restrictions that only a few could actually benefit.

The STARS ACT is not without controversy. Some immigrant communities think it reeks of opportunism, while others see it as the best opportunity for a better future. But considering that Rivera has caught more headlines for being under investigation by the FBI, IRS and other acronym-ed agencies, a DREAM Act alternative is probably the least controversial thing attached to his name.

Two days, two different events; one in which immigrants are joined by Not-In-My-Back-Yard residents to protest a nominally popular Democratic rep’s support for an unquestionably unpopular detention center; and another, where a respected undocumented student stands by a Republican rep. as he unveils a piece of immigration legislation that some immigrant students sort of like.

What is happening in South Florida?

Well, we have a Democratic president who seems sympathetic to our issues until he deports a record number of our loved ones. He is not helped when he has a DNC chair who talks a good game about supporting working families but then stands with one of the worst 1 percent corporations (CCA) against the working families in her district.

Immigrants, Latinos and working people have seen how far our loyalty has taken us, and we are not impressed. We are so not impressed that some of us will stand with anyone who is putting out a proposal, alleged ethics violations or not, while others won’t hesitate to voice our opposition to a proposed facility no matter how popular the Congresswoman that supports it is. For those of us who have lived the issues we fight for every day, what politicians do is more important than what they say.

No matter what, we will never put politicians before the best interest of our communities. The tears and fears we feel daily give us the courage and clarity to hold all accountable, even those who claim to be our friends, from both parties.

Encuentro sobre Poli-Migra de la Florida

4 Jun

FLIC y la ACLU te invitan a participar en nuestro Encuentro sobre Poli-Migra en Orlando, FL, el Sábado, 23 de junio.

Desde hace varios años estamos enfrentando con la aplicación de leyes migratorias por agentes de inmigración y la policía local en nuestras comunidades, lo cual ha conducido a un aumento en la discriminación racial por parte de la policía, redadas, detenciones y deportaciones. El objetivo de este Encuentro es entender estos temas que nos afectan y definir estrategias conjuntas que nos permitan protegernos.

Durante el Encuentro, vamos a hablar de…

  • Detenciones y Deportaciones
  • 287 (g), Comunidades Seguras y discriminación racial
  • Entrenamientos de “Conozca sus Derechos”
  • Posibles resultados de la sentencia del Tribunal Supremo sobre la ley SB1070 de Arizona

… y mucho más.

RESERVA TU LUGAR AHORA! Regístrate en línea aquí

Estamos buscando participantes que…

  • trabajan actualmente o planean trabajar en temas relacionados con inmigración
  • están comprometidos a comprometido a continuar el trabajo en sus regiones locales después de la cumbre.

Valor: Estamos pidiendo a todos los participantes que contribuyan $10 para cubrir los costos del Encuentro y el almuerzo.

Puedes solicitar una beca o recibir incentivos para transporte una vez te registres.

Además, puedes patrocinar a un amigo para ayudar a aquellos que no pueden asumir los costos de participar en el Encuentro.

Para obtener más información o para registrarte por teléfono, comunícate con:

Ron Bilbao, la ACLU, rbilbao@aclufl.org, Torrico 786-363-2723 / Gris, FLIC, grey@floridaimmigrant.org, 239-571-7043

Immigration Enforcement Summit in Florida!

4 Jun

FLIC and the ACLU invite you to participate in our Immigration Enforcement Summit in Orlando, FL on Saturday, June 23rd

For several years now, we have been dealing with increased immigration enforcement in our communities leading to racial profiling by police, raids, detentions and deportations. The goal of the summit is to understand these  issues that are affecting us and strategize together on how to protect our communities statewide.

During the Summit, we will talk about…

  • Detention and Deportations
  • 287(g), Secure Communities and Racial Profiling
  • Know Your Rights trainings
  • Possible outcomes on the Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s SB1070

… and much more

RESERVE YOUR SPOT NOW! Register online here

We are looking for participants who…

  • are doing enforcement or are thinking about doing enforcement work
  • are committed to continuing the work in their local regions after the summit.

Cost: All participants are asked to contribute $10 to cover the costs of the summit and their lunch.

You can apply for Scholarships or Carpool Incentives once you register

Also, you can Sponsor a Friend to help those who can’t afford the costs

For more information or to register via phone, contact:

Ron Bilbao, ACLU, rbilbao@aclufl.org, 786-363-2723 / Grey Torrico, FLIC, grey@floridaimmigrant.org, 239-571-7043

HUNDREDS CONVENE IN GAINESVILLE FOR FLIC CONGRESS

18 Nov

Numbers swell after historic mobilizations during the legislative session

 Starting tonight, November 18th, until Sunday November 20th, the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) will host its sixth annual Congress in Gainesville. More than 200 participants representing grassroots organizations, community groups, immigrant rights advocates, lawyers, unions, faith leaders, students and farm workers, will gather to review their achievements during 2011 and prepare for the challenges 2012 might bring for immigrants in Florida.

Hosted by the Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice and the Coalition of Hispanics Integrating Spanish Speakers Through Advocacy and Service (CHISPAS), the 2011 annual membership meeting will swell to record numbers, attracting hundreds of people from throughout the state. The organization most recently earned notoriety for its role in mounting a formidable campaign, during the 2011 legislative session successfully thwarting the governor’s campaign threat of an Arizona immigration copycat bill.

With no staff until 2005, the Florida Immigrant Coalition now has a permanent presence peppered throughout the peninsula in great part due to a solid core of 30 diverse organizations and a talented cohort of full time staff in five different counties.

Florida has the fourth largest immigrant population in the country. Its state coalition has become a reliable and growing mobilization machine, in particular for its reach and depth with the state’s Latino constituencies.

The 6th Annual Congress will be held at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The Florida New Majority, the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy and the Florida Asset Building Coalition are expected to participate.

Thou Shalt Not Steal

17 Nov

By Jeanette Smith, South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, Member of Florida Wage Theft Task Force 

Today marks one year since Miami-Dade County publicly declared a Day Against Wage Theft. Wage theft, or the nonpayment of wages earned, affects us all. Families suffer when earnings are too low to meet basic needs. Local businesses and economies are denied vital stimulus that would flow from the additional spending of workers had they been paid their earned salaries. Honest businesses are undermined by unscrupulous competitors who practice wage theft. Government at all levels is affected, as they are denied tax revenues generated by higher earnings and when many working families must resort to public programs to survive.

Last year, our County adopted an unprecedented ordinance to protect workers from wage theft, the first one in Florida and model legislation for many other communities throughout the country. Thanks to it, in only one year the County’s Wage Theft Program collected over $350,000 in unpaid wages through conciliation, and since January, over $415,000 has been awarded to workers through administrative hearings.

The victims of wage theft have ranged from construction workers to teachers to home health care workers and others. Claims have been as low as sixty dollars and as high as thousands of dollars. Mayor Carlos Gimenez recently lauded the program as “an effective tool for promoting economic security and dignity”. With the over one million dollars in claims still pending, it is obvious that wage theft is an epidemic in our community.

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