Like many low wage workers, Carmen felt that she and her co-workers were not being respected for their labor. On a regular basis, Carmen was required to work 15 minutes off the clock. In addition, there was no clear process to file complaints. When workers did complain, some of the managers ridiculed and verbally abused them. That all changed when Carmen took a brave step and decided to go public with her complaints.
By taking action and joining with her community and supporters Carmen was able to negotiate with the management. They did the right thing and wrote her a check for her missing wages. For Carmen this was not about the money, but was about respect for her and the other kitchen staff.
Carmen’s workplace has stopped the practice of making employees work off the clock and the managers have been much more respectful to their employees.
“You got to keep fighting. Even when nobody believes in you, you will have support. I was at the point of breaking, but you can win. You got to show that you can last one day longer than them. You have to believe you’re telling the truth, and things can change.”- Carmen.
This victory would not have been possible without the community support for Carmen and the kitchen staff. When Carmen filed a complaint with the Bureau of Labor and Industry, supporters stood behind her as she delivered the complaint to the owner. When the management missed meetings with Carmen supporters were once again there to leaflet and let them know that this was not just going to go away. Over 450 supporters signed the petition to support Carmen.
After several weeks of handing out leaflets at the restaurant and supporters moving the petition online, Carmen still wasn’t getting paid the wages owed to her. Finally, 25 community members picketed at the restaurant in Vancouver. Two days later, Carmen was holding a check for her unpaid hours.
Unfortunately, wage theft is widespread but thanks to you and thanks to Carmen, we showed that change is possible. If you or someone you know is dealing with wage theft call our hot-line 503-345-7831. Together we can ensure that all workers are respected in Oregon.
We are Oregon was originally launched by Oregon’s SEIU Locals 49 and 503, with the intention of broadening the fight on issues that affect working class Oregonians beyond the workplace, and into the communities hit hardest by the current economic crisis.
We’re fighting for a fair economy, where working class people have a voice in our own future, and in how our own communities are run. We see the current economy as inherently unfair, because the priorities of banks, corporations and the rich take precedence in almost every situation over the needs of our families and communities.
For more information, visit We Are Oregon.