40 Faith Leaders Across Miami-Dade Delivered an Interfaith Letter for Immigrants Rights

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

40 Faith Leaders Across Miami-Dade Delivered an Interfaith Letter for Immigrants Rights, Urging Commissioners to Vote Their Consciences on Feb 17th
Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faith leaders highlighted growing anxieties within their congregations and called for just policies that protect, not endanger, immigrants

Miami, Florida – Less than forty-eight hours after a group of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish activists launched a 90-hour interfaith fast for immigrants rights, 40 faith leaders endorsed an interfaith letter voicing collective concerns and recommendations to the Miami-Dade County’s Board of County Commissioners. The interfaith letter, which was is scheduled to be delivered this afternoon to the Board’s offices in the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, called upon the Board to uphold their original 2013 immigration policy in lieu of embracing policy changes that could further endanger immigrant communities.

On Friday, February 17th, the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) is anticipated to re-examine a county-wide immigration policy, which the Board lauded for its ability to balance cost effectiveness and fairness with critical public safety concerns. Three years after the Board unanimously approved this immigration policy, Mayor Carlos Gimenez unsettled immigrant communities across the county by inexplicably announcing an executive action that undermined the public safety, cost-effectiveness, and fairness of the 2013 policy, which he initially supported. In response to Gimenez’s executive action, immigrant communities have expressed feeling fear, panic, and confusion. Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith leaders across Miami-Dade County are disturbed by a range of troubling concerns that immigrants within their congregations have expressed.

You, as our commissioners, have the opportunity to protect these residents of Miami-Dade County. We ask that you continue to exercise respect for human and civil rights by safeguarding the integrity of our diverse community and upholding your 2013 decision,” wrote the leaders. “We embrace the faith principle of welcoming the stranger, and we call on you, our county commissioners, to advance policies that are inclusive and welcoming and that strengthen local protections for affected members of our community.”

“It is a moral imperative to protect immigrant members of our community and their families, particularly in South Florida, a region that is home to the fifth largest undocumented community in the United States,” said Archdeacon Jean Fritz Bazin of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida. “The diversity of our community is a blessing that is at the core of our collective identity as Miami-Dade residents.”

“The potential vote on the 17th marks a turning point for Miami-Dade County. How do we envision our future? Will we be a county that embraces immigrants and values compassion over fear? Or a place that endangers immigrants and values division over solidarity?” questioned Bazin.

“The fundamental duty of every parent is to protect their children, even if it means tearing up their roots and leaving their home countries to seek refuge in another. The world is in turmoil as never before in history. We are being challenged to expand our idea of who is our neighbor,” said Kathy Hersh, Clerk of the Miami Friends Meeting (Quakers). “We accept immigrants and refugees as our neighbors and we ask the Miami-Dade Commission to do the same and to honor these dutiful parents and their children who choose life."

“In the face of growing xenophobia across the country, faith communities are finding their beliefs challenged as the momentum grows to demonstrate moral leadership,” commented Jeanette Smith, Executive Director of South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice.

Faith leaders hope that the county commission will heed the concerns of the hundreds of thousands of congregants throughout the community who look to their elected officials to exhibit principled and compassionate leadership. Clergy and congregants will be present on February 17th to testify during the County’s special hearing on immigration.

South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice (SFIWJ) is an association of many diverse religious leaders throughout Miami-Dade and Broward Counties who respond to the crisis of the working poor. Established in 1998, SFIWJ is one of over 60 affiliates of the national Interfaith Worker Justice network based in Chicago. SFIWJ's volunteer Board of Directors is comprised of faith leaders from various religious and ethnic traditions.

Workers file 1st complaint under city wage theft law

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

By Lomi Kriel April 15, 2014 | Updated: April 15, 2014 4:25pm

Thirteen workers on Tuesday filed the first complaint under a new Houston ordinance aimed at preventing companies from stealing workers' wages.

The workers, with the assistance of the nonprofit Faith and Justice Worker Center, filed documents with the city's inspector general alleging that their employer, Bradley Demolition and Construction, refused to pay them overtime. They say the company also failed to provide tax forms.

Among those filing the complaint were Erik Lopez and his three brothers. They said they often worked 80 hours a week, building highway ramps and trash landfills for various city projects.

A supervisor at Bradley Demolition "would tell me it didn't really suit him to pay me overtime," said Lopez, 30, a native of Guerrero state in Mexico, who came to Houston 14 years ago seeking work.

Calls on Tuesday to Bradley Demolition and Construction weren't immediately returned.

It was not until Lopez heard about the city's wage theft ordinance, passed in November, that he realized he had some recourse. Read the full article here

Labor Commissioner Cracks Down on Wage Theft; Orders Reparations to Maids Fired for Cooperating in Wage Theft Investigation

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

SAN JOSE, Calif., April 14, 2014 -- California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su fined San Carlos-based Sunflowers Maid Service for $394,944 in unpaid wages and premiums to be paid back to affected workers, plus civil penalties.  The Labor Commissioner's investigation determined that 18 employees were only paid for eight hours while working ten hour days, and were not provided meal or rest periods. Three of these workers, fired in retaliation for cooperating in the investigation, were ordered to be reinstated as employees and paid for lost hours while wrongfully terminated.  Read Full Article Here.

Florida Democrats Join Minimum Wage Challenge

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

TALLAHASSEE— As Republican lawmakers continue to stall any action on raising the minimum wage, Florida Democrats who have joined Senator Dwight Bullard’s challenge to live on the meager income for a week will hold a press conference tomorrow to discuss their progress.

“For the everyday minimum wage workers putting in 40 hours, they’re still having difficulties putting food on the table each week,” Senator Bullard (D-Miami) stated. “It’s amazing to see how many of those who oppose any increase are afraid to accept the challenge to live for a week on the status quo. What are they so afraid of?” Read Full Article Here

Taking on Big Business Wage Theft

Monday, April 07, 2014

By  Harmony GoldbergNext New Deal | News Analysis on Sunday, 06 April 2014 by truthout

Despite the extensive press coverage of the fight of fast-food workers for a $15 hourly wage, one recent development hasn’t gotten much attention: fast food workers around the country have started to win significant wage theft lawsuits against McDonald’s franchisees, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. These lawsuits raise an important question: How has McDonald’s been able to get away with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from low-wage workers? The answer is straightforward. Our system for enforcement has been so severely weakened that many employers are able to regularly violate workers’ basic rights. And the law itself is broken. Its structure allows corporations like McDonald’s to escape responsibility for the conditions in their workplaces. Read Full article here

New Brunswick becomes first town in state to adopt ordinance banning wage theft

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

By Sue Epstein/The Star-Ledger on December 31, 2013 at

NEW BRUNSWICK — Israel Lopez emigrated from Mexico to New Brunswick looking for a better life for his family. He got a job at a deli in the city, but realized sometime later that he was being paid less than the legal minimum wage. 

Lopez, 36, didn’t say anything to his boss because "I didn’t know how to recover my wages without being fired."

His dilemma is the same one suffered by thousands of workers in New Jersey and nationwide — they are the victims of wage theft, according to two community activist groups that fought for Lopez and other New Brunswick residents in the same situation. Full article here.

Wage-theft, human rights ordinances take effect today

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

By Cindy Swirko, Staff writer on Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The final fading of the incandescent light bulb begins Wednesday but a new light will shine on employers who dupe their workers of pay.

New laws that will touch most people in one way or another will take effect Wednesday — among them a law ending the manufacture of incandescent lights, Alachua County's new wage-theft ordinance, a revised county human rights ordinance that adds sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to other classes protected from discrimination, and many other laws at the local, state and national levels. Full article here