WORKERS PROTEST LOCAL RESTAURANTS FOR NOT PAYING SANTA FE MINIMUM WAGE; WORKERS AT MAKI YAKI AND HORSEMAN’S HAVEN CLAIM OVER $150,000 IN UNPAID WAGES
SANTA FE, NM--Dozens of workers and their supporters protested in front of two local restaurants on Friday for not being paid the Santa Fe minimum wage. The action, organized by members of the United Worker Center of New Mexico (a project of Somos Un Pueblo Unido), was prompted by five current and former employees at Horseman's Haven Café and three employees at Maki Yaki Restaurant who filed wage theft complaints with the City of Santa Fe claiming that they are owed over $150,000 collectively.
Workers gathered with their children in front of the Horseman's Haven Café located on Cerrillos Rd. and continued to Maki Yaki Restaurant located at 3003 S St. Francis Dr. The complaints were filed against Maki Yaki in February, 2015 and against Horseman's Haven in April, 2015. Neither has been resolved yet.
Veronica Velasquez Ruiz, member of the Maki Yaki worksite committee, said: "The owner had a practice of not paying us the minimum wage. I worked for Maki Yaki (restaurant) for 6 years, I was not paid the Santa Fe's minimum wage for five of them. I would work 132 hours every two weeks and only get paid $500. I have a family that depend of my wages and job."
Jose Valtierrez-Villa, member of the UWC said: "I was working for Horseman's Haven Café for three years and was only getting paid $7 an hour. After filing a wage theft complaint with my co-workers, my hours were cut in retaliation. No one should be punished for standing up for their rights as workers."
Last week, Valtierrez-Villa filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for retaliation by his employer for organizing with his co-workers.
Rayos Burciaga, a long term member at the UWC, said on Friday: "The Santa Fe City Council passed the living wage ordinance in 2003 to ensure that all workers have a higher standard of living. 12 years later, there are still businesses in the city that refuse to abide by the law and pay their workers an honest wage. There seems to be little recourse for these working families. It's clear that we need to develop stronger and faster enforcement measures at the city."
Lorenzo Ramirez, an organizer at the UWC added: "Wage theft undercuts businesses in Santa Fe that follow the rules and it's disastrous for the working families who prop up our city's service sector and tourism industry. We all need to hold unscrupulous employers accountable."
Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a statewide civil and worker's rights organization. In 2012, Somos founded New Mexico's first and only worker center, the United Worker Center of New Mexico, to organize and provide support to non-union, low-wage workers.