Chicago - Jun. 11, 2021
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American Dream Betrayed

Little Village Car Wash Workers Win 9-Year Fight

Workers' rights group Arise Chicago supported workers through a nearly decade-long campaign to recover more than a quarter-million dollars from their former car wash employer, Octavio Rodriguez, involving several government agencies and a federal court.

Background:

In 2011, Arise Chicago, with the help of the U.S. Labor Department, supported workers at Little Village Carwash to collect wages owed to them.

In 2012, Arise supported workers to try to recover wages again, through a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor. The employer did not pay despite the resolution in favor of the workers.

In 2014, the Illinois Attorney General sued the employer, Octavio Rodriguez, who declared bankruptcy to avoid paying his workers their owed wages.

In 2017, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court brought charges of fraud against the employer and took over his properties.

After Octavio Rodriguez hired a private investigator to harass the workers to try to "settle" their complaints in exchange for $2,000 each, the bankruptcy court ruled in favor of the workers.

It has taken nine years for the workers to collect their wages.

Cases like this, which began years before Arise Chicago won the creation of a Chicago Office of Labor Standards to uphold city worker protections, have motivated the City of Chicago to strengthen its enforcing power and labor ordinances.

Last week, new legislation was introduced in the city council regarding wage theft protection, an enhanced leave policy, support for domestic workers, a review of chain businesses (for when companies falsely report they have fewer workers than they actually do to pay less than minimum wage), conducting a tipped wage study, better informing future worker policies, promoting workplace safety and outreach and education programs.

Such actions and programs are needed to ensure no other workers in Chicago have to wait nearly a decade simply to be paid their regular, legally owed wages.

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Previously in wage theft:

* Wage Theft: Unregulated Work In Chicago.

* Wage Theft In America.

* Report From The Wage Theft Front: Little Village Car Wash.

* ProPublica 'Temp Land' Investigation Nails Little Village Check Cashing Store.

* McDonald's Faces Global Crackdown In Brazil; Chicago Worker Testifies.

* CyberMonday, Amazon & You.

* Rose's Story: How Welfare's Work Requirements Can Deepen And Prolong Poverty.

* Politico: 'Shady Bosses' Stealing $15 Billion In Wages From Low-Income Workers.

* McDonald's Breaks Promise To Raise Wages.

* Report Reveals Rampant Wage Theft Among Top U.S. Corporations.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on June 1, 2021


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