Latino Union of Chicago
New immigrants, grateful for work, are easy prey for unscrupulous employers. People seeking to support their families with honest labor are subjected to a litany of abuses that include wage theft, sexual harassment and physical harm. Immigrant women dominate the low-paid, poorly regulated, but ever-growing fields of home health care and domestic work.
“Our organization works at the criminalized intersection of immigration and labor.”
In 2000, a group of women from Central and South America who were employed through temporary labor agencies as cleaners and factory workers banded together to form Latino Union of Chicago. They have worked successfully to champion the rights of temporary laborers who are traditionally excluded from union membership and protective legislation, including minimum wages and benefits. This new labor movement reflects changes in the global and local economies and has built a multi-racial base of people united by their common goals.
Latino Union improved conditions by founding the Albany Park Workers’ Center, a hiring hall, education facility and organizing hub where workers meet potential employers and negotiate wages in a safe space. Its persistence helped raise the average hourly wage paid to day laborers by 200% and eliminated wage theft by establishing a wage floor and written contracts.
“Immigrant workers are in a precarious position, devoid of many basic rights.”
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has awarded grants to Latino Union to train leaders and help members improve their skills and professionalism so they can become independent contractors who hire others. The group’s efforts to raise the dignity of immigrant workers have made Latino Union a local anchor in the national campaign for caregivers’ rights.
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