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Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

National Day of Action on behalf of low wage workers set for Times Square

Come July 24, Time Square will become a sea of banners and chanting protesters demanding economic justice.

“Workers have to fight for our rights, for paid sick days, a raise of the minimum wage not only at the state level but also at the federal one, the right to organize at the workplace,” said Javier Valdés, of Make the Road New York.

To do exactly that — to forcefully ask for economic solutions that work for all, not just the rich — thousands of New Yorkers from many different backgrounds are expected to gather at Times Square for what has been billed as a National Day of Action.

Airport workers, car washers, supermarket workers, janitors, all of them actively fighting for respect and fair wages, will participate in the rally. They will be demanding that irresponsible or rogue corporations and employers be held accountable.

The National Day of Action was announced Tuesday on the steps of City Hall by a coalition of elected officials and community and faith leaders. They are inviting New Yorkers from of all backgrounds to mobilize and support the workers’ demands. Similar demonstrations will be held in Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.

“We need to show the political power of Latinos, to let everyone know these are issues we care about and that we expect elected officials to know it and to act accordingly,” Valdés said.

That seems to be already happening with Latino politicians, many of whom have become active participants and have added their names to the list of supporters of the National Day of Action.

Among them are Rep. Nydia Vel&zquez; State Sen. Gustavo Rivera; Assemblyman Guillermo Linares and Councilwomen Melissa Mark-Viverito, Julissa Ferreras and Diana Reyna.

Also, such labor and community leaders as Héctor Figueroa, 32BJ; Estela Vásquez, 1199UHWE; José Dávila, Hispanic Federation; Camille Rivera, UnitedNY; Lucía Gomez, La Fuente; Ana María Archila, Make the Road NY are also actively involved along with faith leaders such as Rev. Fabián Arias, Zion Lutheran Church and Rev. Guillermo Martino, Tabernacle of God’s Glory, among others.

The National Day of Action, organizers said, is part of a larger campaign spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union that is “uniting low-wage workers with community organizations and average New Yorkers in the fight for a fair economy.”

In fact, Valdés said, many low-wage workers are already struggling for their right to organize, earn fair wages and enjoy decent working conditions.

“The campaign is aimed at uniting these workers to achieve victories in those struggles,” organizers said.

This has been a good week for the car washers who scored an important victory: Alex Moreno, a Bronx car-wash owner who failed to pay his workers minimum wage, was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay his workers $150,000 in restitution. He will also have to spend weekends in jail for the next four months.

As reported by the Daily News’ Erica Pearson, the car wash workers said Moreno, who ran a Getty gas station/car wash in the Mount Eden section of the Bronx, paid them only $4 an hour with no overtime for 12-hour workdays and six-day work weeks, an outrageous situation that, sadly, is similar to that of many other low-wage workers in New York.

The plan is to hold a massive rally on July 24 in Times Square after which different groups will go to show support and solidarity with different active campaigns such as that of car wash employees, locked out Con Ed workers and others.

On that day, July 24, the 99% — that is, the vast majority of the people of New York — will turn Times Square into a sea of banners and chanting protestors demanding what rightfully belongs to them.

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