Learn more about the bill at www.sweatny.org
Do you think it’s right to force workers into arbitration? What about forcing workers to do overtime? Do you have ideas on how to promote the campaign or want to get involved?
- Sign a petition to 1199SEIU here
- Tweet the Ain’t I A Woman?! position paper on why we need to #Fightfor40 and #StopMandatoryOT to President Obama and any presidential candidate.
- Get your organization to endorse the Ain’t I A Woman?! Campaign.
- Contact the Ain’t I A Woman?! Campaign about how you are organizing in your community and/or invite Ain’t I A Woman?! to speak at your next event.
Lai Yee Chan, a home attendant for Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC), helped her patients day and night for over 15 years. During the day, she bathed and fed her patients. At night, she helped them get out of bed and go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. She could not leave her patient for even a second of her 24-hour shift. One day her daughter was locked out of her house, but Lai Yee was not allowed to go downstairs to give her daughter the key. Adding insult to injury, Lai Yee has not seen a pay increase in 8 years, is not paid for the 12 hours of work at night, except for a small fee, and is never paid overtime. Ultimately, workers like Lai Yee are paid about $5/hour, way less than the minimum wage.
In November, 2014, Lai Yee received a check from NYS Department Labor of about $200 for the 6,000 hours of overtime she worked from 2007 to 2013. Lai Yee went to her union, 1199 SEIU, for help. Union reps refused to file a grievance, and lied, telling her CPC was not required to pay overtime because CPC is a non-profit. Lai Yee and a few other workers were frustrated and decided that they wanted to speak out against the wage theft and mandatory overtime. With the support of Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association, in March 2015 they filed a class action against CPC and organized over a hundred co-workers to join them. CPC argued that the case should be arbitrated, according to their contract with the Union, and asked the court to dismiss the case. But in September 2015, New York State Supreme Court Judge Carol Edmead rejected the employer’s argument, stating that the contract’s arbitration clause was not specific enough to prevent workers from proceeding in court. She also affirmed their right to pursue pay for all hours worked.
Immediately after, the union shamelessly entered into an agreement with the employer to amend the contract making arbitration mandatory for any wage claims and prohibiting workers from representing other workers or the class. The amendment deprived workers of their right to a fair day in court. The new contract also cut the wages for all 24-hour-shift workers, instead of giving them their wage increase that was long overdue.
The union’s legal staff claimed the new contract was not being used to stop workers from pursuing the lawsuit, yet other union reps pushed hard for ratification of the new contract. Lai Yee and her coworkers felt compelled to speak out against this corrupt deal. When they complained about the amended contract at the ratification meeting, union reps called them “troublemakers” and attacked the workers who filed the lawsuit.
We demand the union stand by the workers instead of standing with CPC! We urge 1199 SEIU President George Gresham to clean house and remove the mandatory arbitration requirement from the union contract!
Do you want to support the home attendants to get justice and fight against mandatory overtime? Here’s what you can do:
- Get your organization to join the Ain’t I a Woman Campaign by visiting https://aintiawoman.org/endorse/
- Send a letter urging 1199 SEIU President George Gresham to clean house: 1199 Healthcare Workers East, 310 W 43rd St, New York, NY 10036
- Sign the petition online
- Speak out against Mandatory Overtime and for the Right to a 40-Hour Week
- Get involved and plan your own activities! Contact the campaign with any ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Happy Lunar New Year! We are charging forward in 2015, breaking new ground:
Taking Back our Community
After years of condemning the racist East Village Rezoning Plan and fighting to include Latino organizations into Chinatown Working Group (CWG), we recently won a battle against developers. On January 5, 2015, CWG adopted important principles of the People’s First Plan. The plan includes 100% low-income housing on NYCHA public land and placing height limits and 55% low-income housing on private land in waterfront area, which encompasses the hotly-contested former Pathmark lot. Armed with this victory, and encouraged by the recent arrest of Assemblymember Sheldon Silver, Chinese workers are leading the fight for change and coming together with communities across the city to tell Mayor DeBlasio that our communities are not for sale.
Fearless in the Fight to End Wage Theft
In 2014, we supported East Market Restaurant workers to launch a picket line in front of the restaurant, in the heart of the Fuzhounese community, to kick off the campaign against the wage theft. Later, joined with hundreds of workers from other communities we held demonstrations monthly in front of NYS Department of Labor (DOL) to demand Governor Cuomo enforce the labor law and increase the minimum for tip-workers. The action successfully forced the Cuomo administration to convene the Wage Board to increase wages from roughly $5 to $7.50 for ALL tipped workers. Furthermore, we brought to light the need for better enforcement as well as new legislation to make enforcement possible. Currently, the DOL has a 17,000 case back-log, which is unacceptable.
Taking Back the 40-hour Workweek
Chinese women workers have made huge strides, putting time at the forefront of the debate in workers’ struggles and women’s struggles. We connected with workers in Pactiv’s Arkansas factory who are facing retaliation for organizing against 12-hour mandatory overtime shifts. On March 8, International Women’s Day, we are launching a national boycott of Costco, urging the company to stop buying Pactiv and Reynolds sweatshop products. This May, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the demand for a 40-hour workweek, the Ain’t I A Woman?! Campaign will join students, faith groups and workers’ organizations across the country who are teaming up to take back control of our time.
We invite you to join us in fighting these struggles during this year of the Ram which symbolizes determination and steadfast bravery in the face of difficult opposition. We also hope you will join us at the celebration on March 15th to welcome in the Year of the Ram!