Latino USA

Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Guatemala City’s Basurero

The Guatemala City basurero is the largest garbage dump in Central America. It’s not a place anyone wants to be near, much less ‘work’ at. But for hundreds of guajeros, everyday is spent sifting through refuse looking for items to recycle. Correspondent John Burnett reports.

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From Farm Worker to Farm Owner

Karina Canto is pulling her red beets from the soil at a farm in California’s Salinas Valley. She’s a recent graduate of ALBA, the Agriculture and Land-based Training Association located in the Central Valley, that’s helping turn farm workers into farm owners and operators. It’s a unique program that has sparked a growing trend across the country.
Efren Avalos also graduated from the program.He owns and runs Avalos Organic Farm – A 17-acre plot of rich farmland located in the ranching and farming community of Hollister, California. We met up with both Karina, and Efren to find out about the journey of becoming farm owners and how it’s changed their lives.

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In Los Angeles, Protests of LAPD Shooting of Day Laborer

The killing of Manuel Jamines, on Sunday 5 September, by an officer of the Los Angeles Police Department sparked several protests throughout the week. Jamines, an immigrant from Guatemala, was working as a day laborer. Frank Stoltze of Southern California Public Radio has this report.


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Disaster Migrants & The BP Cleanup

The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has drawn cleanup workers from near and far. Many of those workers are Latinos, so-called “disaster migrants” who go from catastrophe to catastrophe and aid in the repair efforts. Maybe it doesn’t seem like an ideal job to you, but these folks are happy just to have work.

The report on disaster migrants comes to us from Annie Correal of the Feet in Two Worlds project.


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Click the image to view an interactive map of the spill.

Searching for Solutions in Houston

In Houston this week, hundreds of workers and worker advocates gathered for the National Action Summit for Latino Worker Health & Safety sponsored by the Department of Labor and OSHA, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

Latinos are disproportionally represented in high-risk occupations: construction & farming being two. And while Latinos are no more accident-prone per se, in some industries your risk of serious injury or death is 50% higher if you’re Latino.

Latino USA went to the conference and talked with some of the workers about their working conditions.

Reporter Yasmeen Qureshi and producer Mincho Jacob also talked with some of the organizers of the conference — and asked about the search for solutions. Here’s Quereshi’s report:


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The 9/11 Workers

In the hours immediately following the attack on the World Trade Center, a call went out for help. People were needed to sift through the debris and to begin to clean up the rubble that piled in the footprint of the twin towers.

It was delicate and back breaking work. Many responded generously and put themselves in harm’s way to sift carefully through the ash and dust: this was a mass gravesite, and the work was considered sacred in some very real way.

Some of those who responded in 2001 lack the documentation to live in the U.S. legally. That is complicating their attempts to receive medical care for illnesses they say stem from their cleanup work. This week, many of them met in New York to call for reform of the nation’s immigration laws.

Maria talks with José Gaviria, one of the workers who responded to the call for help at Ground Zero and with Daniel Coates, a communtiy organizer with Make the Road: New York, which sponsored the gathering of 9/11 workers.


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The Economy, Small Businesses and Small Communities

Nationally, the nation’s unemployment hovers around 10 percent. This does not include what some say would be about another 5 to 7 percent who simply have given up trying to find jobs. And the unemployment rate for Blacks and Latinos is higher than the national average.

To examine this complex jobs situation, Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa speaks with two people who bring very different perspectives on the economy.

Paul Cuadros is a journalism professor who has been documenting the economic impact of immigration in rural North Carolina. He also teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Lydia Gutierrez is an entrepreneur from Detroit, Michigan and owner of a tortillería called Hacienda Mexican Foods.


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Legalize LA

In many ways the Los Angeles-based clothier American Apparel has been ahead of the social-political curve. A model for “sweatshop free” American-based manufacturing, American Apparel has long called for immigration reform, fair wages, domestic partner equality, and other controversial issues. In fact, its Los Angeles factory proudly bears the banner “Legalize LA” across its building top.

The fact that undocumented immigrants were working for decent wages with paid healthcare benefits at the clothing factory was something of an open secret. Company officials say they followed the law to the letter in their hiring practices. Still, hundreds of its employees with fake documents were working for the company. But instead of a massive workplace raid where people were shackled away and charged with criminal acts of identity theft, American Apparel was hit by something different by federal immigration officials – employer sanctions and hefty fines.

Now, the company is being forced to fire more than one-fourth of its employees – 1800 people in all – because of pressure by federal immigration authorities.

New York Times reporter Julia Preston speaks with Maria Hinojosa about this major shift in immigration enforcement by the federal government.


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Si Se Puede: Chicago Workers’ Sit-In

A labor dispute in Chicago at the end of 2008 caught the nation’s attention. What made it so newsworthy was a confluence of unique factors stemming from the economic issues facing the country.

Leah Fried, UE organizer

The controversial bank bailout of 2008 was supposed to ease the nation’s credit crisis. But one bank that received billions in bailout funds had cut off credit to a Chicago-based manufacturer, forcing the plants closing.

When the company said the bank refused to extend credit to pay for benefits and salary for 60 days as required under federal law, the local union, led mainly by immigrants and supported by a multicultural coalition of workers, decided to occupy the plant until “justice” was given them.

Armando Robles, president of UE local 1110 in Chicago.

Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister of Long Haul Productions spoke at length to the worker leaders and brings us their story titled, “Si Se Puede: Chicago Workers’ Sit-in.”

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