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  • Writer's pictureCele León

Trabajadores Unidos helps recover $2,700 for workers

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

Oct 19, 2018

My name is José, I am a Salvadoran immigrant and I have been working in construction, remodeling and painting in the Washington DC area for 10 years. Now I will tell you a case of theft of payment against day laborers in DC.

The contractor went to find us around the Home Depot site. He told us he would pay $2,700 for us to repair an apartment, and we accepted. We worked 4 days: Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, removing the old floor and replacing it with a new one. But on the day we were supposed to be paid, he told us that he didn’t like our work and refused to pay us. He told us to leave the apartment or he would call the police.

We were not scared; we didn’t go anywhere. We know our rights.

We didn’t have official documents or work permits, but we had the intelligence and experience of our work, and we knew we had done a good job. We had met our part of the deal. We knew our rights, and we would not go anywhere without our wages. When the contractor threatened to call the police, we called Trabajadores Unidos de Washington DC (TUWDC).

Threatening to call the police can be useful for employers who are trying to steal our wages. This kind of person knows that many of us, immigrant day laborers, are undocumented, and thus these contractors see us as vulnerable. They can prey on us and disrespect us and violate our rights. They are predators, exploiting workers.

We called Trabajadore Unidos, of Washington DC – TUWDC.

When the contractor threatened to call the police and not pay us for our work, we called TUWDC to seek help so we would not feel alone in our struggle. And thanks to the timely intervention of this non-profit organization and because the DC police agreed that our work was well done, we were able to recover our wages.

We appreciate the support that Trabajadores Unidos provides and we call on all day laborers to continue organizing and working together to grow and learn how to defend ourselves and secure our legal rights.

José A.

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