Casa de Maryland


Casa de Maryland

MVA Worker Under Investigation In License Scheme

Reporting
Suzanne Collins
GLEN BURNIE, Md. (WJZ) ―

A Latino group is outraged that 200 people in their community had their drivers licenses suddenly revoked, even though they'd done nothing wrong.

Suzanne Collins reports there are concerns about racial profiling.

In June 200 Latinos who had Maryland driver's licenses or identification cards got letters saying they had been revoked.  An ACLU lawyer looking into the problem says the action was tied to a fraudulent investigation involving an MVA employee.  The now dismissed worker had been on the job for years and processed a lot of driver's licenses.

"It's not clear to us how MVA picked those 200 licenses from the potential thousands of applications he worked on and most of those people came from Latin American countries," said Ajmel Quereshi, spokesperson for ACLU attorney.

The lawyer wrote the MVA explaining that the Supreme Court has ruled you can't take someone's drivers license without a hearing.  MVA has backed off now, saying it will temporarily reinstate people, but they must come in with the proper documentation by August 10.

Casa De Maryland says it has been a great concern for those affected.

"The inconvenience, I've heard particularly a mother who received this letter, she was very worried, because she has children with special needs who go to therapy and what was she going to do," said Piedramartel.

The Latino group finds it odd that the revocation notices come just as new law takes effect, barring people from getting a Maryland license if they are in this country illegally.

A fells point restaurant owner says its discrimination and people could lose jobs.

"It's really hard.  The Spanish people need the license for driving for work, for the economy," said Fernando Arce, business owner.

The MVA insists its standard policy to revoke a license if it may have been granted in error, saying it isn't race based.  It won't comment on the criminal investigation.

"All I can tell you about this investigation is it's a sealed investigation and it would be inappropriate to speak about it at this time," Buell Young, MVA spokesperson.

The ACLU says it might take further legal action, once it sees if the licenses are reinstated.

http://wjz.com/video/?id= This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Friday, July 31, 2009

Transparency would improve sheriff's image
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By offering a full account of the data related to the Frederick County Sheriff's Office's participation in a federal illegal immigrant screening program, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins would go far in dispelling rumors and speculation about the nature of his deputies' work.

The Sheriff's Office began participating in the screening program, known as 287g, in April 2008. The program allows trained members of local law enforcement agencies to check the immigration status of people they arrest and flag them for federal deportation proceedings.

When Casa of Maryland, a state immigrant advocacy group, began investigating claims of racial profiling and requested 287g data from Jenkins, the Sheriff's Office responded that the gathering of that information would cost tens of thousands of dollars. Casa's response was to take the matter to the courts.

Recently-released guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security are intended to address concerns similar to the ones raised by Casa — that individuals may be arrested for minor offenses as a cover to initiate removal proceedings and that racial profiling is occurring. Though the guidelines do not call for any public disclosure of data, it's clear that federal officials are concerned about the possibility of racial profiling and are taking pre-emptive measures to assuage minority groups.

The issuance of guidelines is no small gesture on the part of the Department of Homeland Security. If Jenkins wants to salvage what he considers a highly-valuable program, reaching out to the immigrant community in the way of full disclosure would indicate he views that group's members as stakeholders who share in the common vision of a safe community.

It's clear from the new federal guidelines that the Department of Homeland Security is taking seriously the perception of 287g as a possible enabler of racial profiling. That's a concept Jenkins has yet to grasp. While the overall merits of 287g can be debated, Jenkins has done a poor job of reaching out to communities whose members feel disenfranchised by the efforts of local law enforcement.

http://www.gazette.net/stories/07312009/poliedi162315_32523.shtml

 

Uniendo esfuerzos en defensa de los trabajadores estafados

ALEX ORTIZ-CAñAS
El Pregonero

jueves 30 de julio de 2009

Más de cien trabajadores, junto a líderes y miembros de organizaciones comunitarias, realizaron este martes un foro para denunciar los abusos de que son objeto los trabajadores hispanos por parte de malos contratistas. La reunión se realizó en Alexandria, Virginia, en el local de LIUNA. Allí se acordó realizar los máximos esfuerzos para asegurar el pago de salarios.

La guatemalteca Tránsito Martínez, es una inmigrante hispana que se gana la vida realizando diversas labores para sostener a su familia. Ella trabajó durante cuatro semanas en un restaurante y al final su empleador no le pagó los 1,800 dólares que le correspondían.

“Luego de ese tiempo me negué a seguir realizando mi trabajo para este señor. Luego pasaron cuatro meses y al no recibir mi pago busqué la ayuda de la organización Inquilinos y Trabajadores”, expresó Martínez.

Este caso, como otros cientos que se conocen en el área metropolitana, lo tomó la organización Inquilinos y Trabajadores de Alexandria, quienes en coordinación con sus oficinas de Culmore (Falls Church) y el condado de Fairfax, llevaron a la corte al contratista para que pague el salario pendiente.

La trabajadora explicó que ya fue a corte y en la primera audiencia no se presentó el “contratista abusador”, luego fue forzado a presentarse, en esta última audiencia éste dijo que sólo debía 420 dólares, lo cual no era cierto.

El juez le dijo al empleador que resolviera el problema y pagara lo endeudado, citándolo para una próxima audiencia el 17 de agosto quería una respuesta favorable para Martínez.

José González, coordinador de la organización Inquilinos y Trabajadores Unidos, en las oficinas de Culmore, manifestó que este caso demuestra la falta de respeto al trabajo de los demás.

“Tenemos 56 casos en los cuales se debe 154 mil dólares a los trabajadores, los cuales hay que recuperar, en el pasado ya se recolectó 27 mil dólares y ya fueron devueltos a los trabajadores que los contratistas habían abusado al no pagarles por su trabajo”, manifestó González.

Agregó que es importante que los jornaleros abusados se quejen ante cualquier organización y al mismo tiempo se organicen, sean cuidadosos en el futuro y pidan información a sus contratistas como el lugar de trabajo, las horas de trabajo a realizar escritas en un documento y firmadas por estos.

González dijo que se estará trabajando a todo nivel y para ello se hará llegar un documento al Congreso estadounidense para que los políticos apoyen una ley en defensa de los trabajadores abusados por sus por sus empleadores.

“Una de las leyes que estamos viendo que podría ser impuesta a estos abusadores que no pagan el sueldo por horas trabajadas a los empleados es que les suspendan su licencia por lo menos un año”, dijo González al hablar de alternativas para frenar estos abusos.

La Red Nacional de Trabajadores LIUNA, máximo organizador del evento, dio a conocer que el foro es parte de una campaña a nivel nacional para frenar esta práctica de abusos en contra de los jornaleros y trabajadores de servicio a quienes no se les paga por sus servicios realizados.

En la reunión de Virginia participaron representantes también de organizaciones como CASA de Maryland, Legal Aid Justice Center-Immigrant Advocacy Program, DC Jobs With Justice, Tenants and Workers United, entre otras.

Estas organizaciones acordaron denunciar a los malos patrones y contratistas, intercambio de información, con las Oficinas del Departamento de Trabajo y lanzamiento de una campaña llamada “Día Trabajado, Día Pagado”. Para quejas por falta de pago las personas pueden llamar al 703-801-8597 y hablar con José González.

http://www.elpreg.org/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=4&ArticleID=3244

 

Jornaleros: los más afectados
Exigen pago de salarios incumplidos

Mitzi Macias
Washington Hispanic

Como parte de una campaña nacional para recuperar salarios no pagados se realizó en Alexandria, Virginia el primer foro de trabajadores, víctimas de empleadores inescrupulosos que incumplieron con el pago de salarios.

Por lo general en este tipo de casos los más afectados son los jornaleros, quienes por la naturaleza de su trabajo y la informalidad se convierten en presas fáciles para aquellos contratistas y empleadores a quienes sólo les interesa encontrar mano de obra barata.
Esta situación ha empeorado en los últimos meses debido a la caída del sector construcción y la crisis económica lo que ha generado desempleo y una mayor necesidad.

El foro contó con la participación de representantes de organizaciones comunitarias y del Departamento del Trabajo. “Estamos enfrentando un problema de hambre entre los jornaleros. Antes de la recesión podíamos exigir un salario mínimo de 10 dólares la hora para ayudante de jornalero y ahora tenemos que bajarnos hasta 5 dólares y encima para que no nos paguen”, expresó a Washington Hispanic, Roberto Villarroel, dirigente y coordinador de jornaleros de Culmore.

El foro contó con la participación de representantes de organizaciones comunitarias como la Red Nacional de Jornaleros, Casa de Maryland, sindicato LIUNA, Inquilinos y Trabajadores Unidos, así como también autoridades del Departamento de Trabajo, quienes escucharon con atención los testimonios y recomendaciones para reforzar las leyes que amparen a los trabajadores.

Durante el foro se expresó una serie de recomendaciones para mejorar las condiciones de los trabajadores informales como son: investigar las quejas con más fuerza, hacer más fácil el proceso para iniciar una queja, crear base de datos para identificar a un empleador que se niegue a pagar, solucionar las barreras del idioma, usar penalidades administrativas como revocar las licencias de contratistas que no paguen e implementar acciones criminals frente a estos abusos.

También se presentó una guía práctica elaborada por la Red Nacional de Jornaleros donde los trabajadores deben anotar el nombre de su empleador, número de teléfono y todo dato o información adicional que facilite el reclamo justo de su salario.

Piden ley

Uno de los principales objetivos de los foros que se realizan en diferentes regiones del país es llegar con el problema a los oídos de las autoridades para que se decidan a tomar acciones concretas para proteger al trabajador informal.

“ Queremos una ley específica que ampare a los jornaleros porque los empleadores que no pagan saben que bajo una acción civil si dicen que no tienen el dinero para pagar están protegidos y libres de castigo real. Esta situación no puede continuar”, dijo José González, organizador de jornaleros de Inquilinos y Trabajadores Unidos.

En menos de seis meses, González contó, que llegaron a su oficina más de 56 casos de trabajadores a quienes le deben su salario por un total de 150 mil dólares y el problema que afecta a nivel nacional sigue empeorando.

http://www.washingtonhispanic.com/html/actualidad.html

 

Md. Laborers' Suit Says Contractor Owes Pay for Katrina Work

By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 21, 2005; Page B02
A group of Maryland day laborers filed suit yesterday against a Howard County contractor accused of failing to pay for cleanup work the men did at two Mississippi casinos damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

The 35 laborers, all Latino immigrants, said they were recruited by MFC General Contractors Inc. at various Montgomery and Prince George's locations to work at casinos in Biloxi and Bay Saint Louis, according to the lawsuit filed on their behalf in U.S. District Court by the nonprofit advocacy group Casa of Maryland.

The company's owners, Michael and Fredis Canales, agreed to pay them $10 an hour to remove debris and rotten food from the two properties, clean carpets and salvage casino machines, the lawsuit says. Thirty workers received a total of about $37,600, but Steven Smitson, an attorney for Casa of Maryland, said MFC still owes them and the five others $99,015 in wages and overtime pay.

Smitson said MFC handed out checks totaling $45,984 to workers when the job ended in October. Those bounced. None of the workers received overtime pay, even though they worked 7 days a week, eight to 12 hours a day, at different times between Sept. 6 and Oct. 22, Smitson said.

"If Canales doesn't have the capital to pay workers, he shouldn't be employing them, and he shouldn't be trying to make a profit off the Katrina catastrophe," Smitson said.

The Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation lists MFC as a forfeited company and no longer recognizes its existence.

Michael Canales, who owns the company with his father, said he told the workers not to cash the checks until he received payment from the Pennsylvania- and Baltimore-based company for which MFC was a subcontractor. He said he did not get paid until late November, nearly a month after the workers returned.

"I couldn't give them [the money] because I didn't have it," Canales said.

He also said that his agreement with the workers did not include overtime pay and that they never worked more than 10 hours a day. "I'm not going to give all this money out. That's not the deal," he said.

His promise, he said, was to pay only $10 an hour and supply housing, food and transportation. He said he treated the workers well, providing them with large trailers with kitchens, bathrooms and even a cook. He said he also gave them $100 a week for food.

Smitson said employees paid on an hourly basis are entitled to overtime pay under federal law. "[Canales] does not have the option to agree to waive protections that have been on the books since 1939," he said. "Workers cannot agree to work for less than minimum wage, and workers cannot agree to waive their overtime protections."

Canales said that a few days before Thanksgiving, he told the 35 workers who sought help from Casa of Maryland that he would take them to the bank to give them their wages but that they told him he would have to speak to their attorneys. Canales pointed out that he had hired a total of 110 Maryland workers and that those whom Casa represents are the only ones who have not gotten paid.

But the day laborers, speaking in Spanish at a news conference yesterday in Silver Spring, said the dispute has left them without money to pay their rent locally and send money to their families back home. Each worker is owed $660 to $5,210, Casa officials said.

Jose Marroquin, 47, said he was recruited for the Katrina project while waiting for work at a 7-Eleven in Riverdale. He slept in a trailer in Mississippi with 11 workers, while other laborers stayed in apartments in Mobile, Ala. He said Canales gave him $100 for food and $900 to send back to his native Guatemala but still owes him $4,000. Marroquin said he has to give money to his wife and seven children in Guatemala.

"I came to this country to find work to survive," Marroquin said. "I'm not trying to harm anyone."

 
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