24 October 2008
"A Voice for the Voiceless..."
One of my assignments on Wednesday was supposed to be a press conference at a local factory in my area, where 29 workers had previously been fired. I was really troubled to meet some of these immigrant workers demonstrating outside on that chilly afternoon, believing that they "didn't need union representation" at their factory, so soon after many of their fellow workers were fired by the owners earlier this month. Forty workers filed a petition, citing unsafe and sweatshop conditions, petitioned OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) as many of the workers receive only minimum wage, even after working at the factory for years. They have no health benefits, sick time or vacation time off. The factory, the nation's second largest nail-polish bottling plant, is being investigated for various violations. Having been to many of their home countries myself, like Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico, and of course knowing the importance of labor unions & workers' rights in this country, I am hoping our efforts in the press will do these workers some good. -cg.