Empowering Workers to Make Our Country’s Workforce Stronger – 4/14/10

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, April 14 2010
CONTACT: Adela de la Torre 213.400.7822

WASHINGTON, DC — Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), flanked by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and other civil rights as well as union leaders, today introduced the Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation (POWER) Act on Capitol Hill. Crafted in response to reports across the country of employers using immigration enforcement to retaliate against workers who step forward to claim their workplace rights, the bill is designed to thwart the use of immigration law to quash workers’ efforts to promote fair labor practices.

“The POWER Act will provide courageous workers with the necessary tools to ensure that their rights to organize and work in a safe and lawful work environment are protected,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “Sadly, some exploitative employers today know that immigration enforcement often trumps our collective labor rights, so these employers threaten workers with deportation to keep them in substandard working conditions. This undercuts other employers and creates a ‘race to the bottom’ that America can ill-afford.”

The POWER Act will lessen the incentives for employers to use immigration enforcement as means to avoid compliance with labor laws, ensure that workers involved in labor disputes will not be deported without an opportunity to speak with officials charged with enforcing labor and workplace safety laws, and provide investigators and attorneys at governmental labor and employment agencies with ample opportunity to interview workers whose rights have been violated.

Tyler Moran, NILC policy director, added, “Unscrupulous employers have denied immigrant and native-born workers alike their basic civil and labor rights. Immigrant workers, like all workers, need to have the protections necessary to expose these bad-apple employers and keep all workplaces safe. The POWER Act will finally close the legal loophole between immigration law and labor law, improving the ability of workers to stand up for their basic rights and eliminating unfair competition for employers who follow the law.”

For decades, the National Immigration Law Center has engaged in major lawsuits to defend immigrant workers who were retaliated against for exercising their labor rights.

For analysis of the POWER Act and its provisions, visit www.nilc.org.



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