“One in every five low-wage workers in El Paso receives under minimum wage.” This is just one of the many disturbing findings presented by from Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, Border Network for Human Rights, the Labor Justice Committee, Dr. Cristina Morales, and Eric Murillo who unveiled their report on wage theft and labor violations in the El Paso area at the local office of the Border Network for Human Rights.
This groundbreaking report uncovers an epidemic of wage and hour violations running rampant in the El Paso area, and the impunity with which employers are able to violate their employees’ rights.
The report shows that wage theft is a widespread problem that occurs when employers fail to pay employees for their work. In certain industries like construction and domestic work, wage theft occurs in epidemic proportions. Wage theft also undercuts responsible businesses who can’t compete, and hurts working families by forcing them to face unexpected hardships.
“These results come as no surprise to members of our community who labor in low-wage industries. Workers in El Paso work so hard for their families. But employers regularly underpay or fail to pay workers for their work. We have rights, but employers don’t respect those rights,” Said Lidia Cruz, member of the Labor Justice Committee.
“One in five low-wage workers are receiving under the legally-mandated minimum wage. Almost 2/3 of workers who should be receiving overtime compensation are not.” Said Dr. Cristina Morales, author of the report. “This Report reveals these labor violations for what they really are, a crime wave that is sweeping our region.”
The Report not only documents violations but provides concrete policy recommendations for local leaders to combat this epidemic immediately. The recommendations include the passage of a local wage theft ordinance that would fill the gaps of state and federal labor law.
Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, an El Paso-based legal organization that assists low-wage workers with employment violations, worked with the other authors to produce this report. “It’s hard to imagine any other area of law where the law is violated and treated with impunity at these levels. Because of limited resources, we have an area of law with very little enforcement at the state or federal level.” Said Chris Benoit, attorney for the organization. “This Report provides our local leaders with the tools to better protect these most vulnerable members of the El Paso community.”
Get the full report on Wage Theft in El Paso [pdf 1.1 mb]
For more reports on labor and working class issues, check out the Talking Union blog.