Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA, a.k.a. the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection), in partnership with New York City Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), and partner organizations hosted Building Bridges: A Convening for NYC Immigrant Workers last night at Lincoln Hospital in Bronx.
Following a successful convening in Manhattan last November, this important event brought together immigrant workers and workers’ rights organizations to discuss the issues workers face at work, efforts to transform working conditions, and other strategies to raise workplace standards.
The event featured three panels-one with the commissioners from DCA, CCHR, and MOIA; a second with representatives from Catholic Charities, Cooperative Home Care Associates, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, and Urban Health Plan’s Project HOPE; and finally, a panel with immigrant workers including day laborers, construction workers, and home health aides, among others. Panelists engaged with the 100 attendees on topics such as wage theft, issues related to worksite immigration enforcement, employment agency fraud, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification issues, and worker discrimination.
“With the federal government shifting away from protecting vulnerable workforces and creating anti-immigrant policies that foster an increasingly hostile work environment for immigrants, we are committed to advocating on their behalf,” said DCA Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “It’s vital that we hear from immigrant workers across the city about the unique challenges that they face in the workplace, including harassment, discrimination, and wage theft. We want all immigrants to know that we here and that NYC’s workplace rights apply regardless of immigration status.”
“New York City has been – and always will be – a city that supports and protects its diverse workforce, including immigrant New Yorkers and their communities,” said Carmelyn P. Malalis, Chair and Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights. “While the statements of federal officials have sought to sow fear and bigotry directed at immigrants and their families, the Commission is using every resource to protect their vulnerable communities. Tonight’s event is crucial for the continued protection of immigrant workers – all of whom are entitled to justice under the NYC Human Rights Law, regardless of immigration status.”
“It’s a simple but profound truth that all workers in this city have rights, no matter what country you’re from, what language you speak, or your immigration status,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “This convening centers immigrant communities and provides an important platform for workers to tell their stories of the challenges they face on the job. It’s an opportunity for their public servants to listen and learn how we can better serve nearly half of our city’s workforce. With our sister agency colleagues at DCA and CCHR, MOIA will continue to serve our communities and protect the rights of all New Yorkers.”
Through DCA, the de Blasio administration continues to lead the nation on advocacy around the importance of municipal workplace rights and protections. DCA’s Office of Labor Policy & Standards (OLPS) is the largest municipal labor standards office in the country with a robust staff of attorneys, investigators, outreach and education specialists, as well as research and policy analysts. DCA enforces, implements, and works on the development of a new generation of minimum labor standards for a stronger city, focuses on ensuring all workers can realize these rights, regardless of immigration status, and embraces its mandate to focus on issues affecting immigrants, people of color, women, and other populations that face vulnerabilities in the workplace.
DCA enforces a number of municipal workplace laws, including the Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law, the Freelance Isn’t Free Act, Commuter Benefits Law, the Living and Prevailing Wage Laws, the Grocery Workers Retention Act, and the Fair Workweek Law. For more information about the City’s workplace laws, please visit here.
NYC’s labor workplace laws apply to all covered employees regardless of immigration status. Employers cannot punish, penalize, retaliate, or take any action against employees that might stop or deter them from exercising their rights, and workers can file a complaint online at nyc.gov/dca or by calling 311. Complaints can be filed anonymously.
“Catholic Charities, through the Day Laborers Program (Jornaleros del Bronx), and following its mission of Providing Help-Creating Hope, is enthusiastically participating in this Convening for NYC Immigrants Workers-Building Bridges, a very powerful forum to empower Workers and Immigrants as a whole,” said Gabriela Estrella, Associate Director, Bronx Community Services, Catholic Charities.
“It is the hope, that through this event all immigrant workers will know how valuable their contributions to the workforce are and how important it is to know and protect their rights,” said Miguel Calderon, Workforce Development Coordinator for Urban Health Plan – Project Hope Workforce Development.
“Cooperative Home Care Associates is grateful for the continued collaboration with DCA to support the employment rights of home care workers and for bringing a voice to workers and showing why their work is important,” said Magaly Camhi, Human Resources Supervisor for Cooperative Home Care Associates.
“The Consulate General of Mexico in New York, following our strong mandate to protect the wellbeing and the interests of the Mexicans living in this region, is honored to participate at this great event and to spread the word about what immigrant workers can do when their rights are affected. We encourage Mexicans in New York City, regardless of their immigration status, to seek assistance through our legal consultants and other services for all matters related to their labor rights.”
Employers and employees may also visit here to learn more about anti-discrimination protections under the NYC Human Rights Law.