DOZENS RALLY TO SUPPORT IMMIGRANT AND WORKERS' RIGHTS; RELEASE REPORT ON IMPACT OF WAGE THEFT ON NATIVE AMERICAN AND LATINO IMMIGRANT WORKERS IN GALLUP
May 1, 2017
Gallup, NM- Today, dozens of workers and their families held a rally and vigil in support of immigrants and working families as part of a national day of action and International Workers Day.
As the Trump administration continues to use its power to ramp up deportations of immigrant workers, a policy that could devastate local rural and semi-urban economies in New Mexico, hundreds of workers throughout the state held marches, rallies, and vigils to defend immigrant families and remind lawmakers how important improving workplace standards are to the state's economy.
"We need our government to help make our lives better not worse," said Josefina Rebollos, a member of Somos Gallup. "Finding a job is hard enough in McKinley County, not getting paid all the hours worked makes life harder for not only my family but our entire community."
The rally for worker's rights was held in front of the McKinley County Courthouse and organized by Somos Gallup, an affiliate of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, as part of the newly formed McKinley Worker Justice Coalition.
The coalition was formed in September 2015 to bring organizations and community members together to strengthen workers' rights and improve workplace conditions and is made up of Somos Gallup, the McKinley Collaborative for Health Equity and the McKinley Community Health Alliance.
During the rally, members of the coalition also released a health impact assessment report regarding the impact of wage theft and other employment violations on the economic security and health of Native American and Latino immigrant workers in Gallup.
Among some key findings, the report highlighted the pervasive nature of wage theft and other employment violations in McKinley County, the poorest county in the state with one of the highest unemployment rates. 70% of the 50 workers surveyed reported experiencing some form of wage theft--Latino immigrant workers at a similar rate as Native American workers.
Nearly half of Native American and Latino immigrant workers reported having experienced discrimination and harassment on the job, and one out of four workers had been injured on the job.
"When workers are not paid fairly or not at all, workers and their families are not the only ones impacted. The entire community is also cheated," said Anna M. Rondon with the McKinley Collaborative for Health Equity. "It also affects workers' health and this increases stress in their lives. We are very proud of being part of putting together this Health Impact Assessment on Wage Theft. This was a community-led effort that united both Navajo and Latino workers."
"Wage theft is a public health issue," said Jessica Jensen, HEP Grants & Capacity Building Strategist with the New Mexico Health Equity Partnership, an initiative at the Santa Fe Community Foundation concerned about the health and wellness of New Mexico's families and communities. "The HIA report is of critical importance as it illustrates that wage theft is connected to higher levels of stress for workers, which leads to poor health outcomes. Ending wage theft would improve the health conditions that Native American and Latino immigrants are experiencing in Gallup."
The report also incorporates recommendations for local policymakers from the Coalition to contain the scope of employment violations in the county. For more information about the report titled "Two Groups, One Community: The Impact of Wage Theft and Other Employment Violations on Native American and Latino Immigrant Workers in Gallup", go to www.somosunpueblounido.org/wagewatch
Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a statewide immigrant-led civil and worker's rights organization with membership teams in ten counties and offices in Santa Fe and Roswell.