On Monday November 21st, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades and New York-based day labor worker centers, other national labor unions, and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) formally announced the launch of an innovative new tool to combat wage-theft and labor exploitation among immigrant workers.
Two years ago, day laborer centers in New York began a bottom-up effort to utilize new technologies to solve epidemic of minimum wage violations. While wage theft, or the denial of earned wages, is rampant across many industries, day laborers are particularly susceptible for many reasons including misperceptions about their immigration status. The new App was designed by and for day laborers, and it can be used by all vulnerable immigrant workers.
The Jornaler@ App, (pronounced Jornalera, the Spanish language word for “day laborer”) will allow users to safely combat instances of wage theft by reporting abusive employers and other violations. The information compiled by the App will be administered by day laborer worker centers, labor unions and other organizations that wish to participate.
“Immigrant worker centers are honored to work with our brothers and sisters within the AFL-CIO to forge the next chapter in worksite enforcement strategies” Pablo Alvarado, the Executive Director of NDLON. “Particularly now, as xenophobes seek to divide workers and undermine government institutions, we must organize, innovate, and stand together to defend ourselves. This new App will encourage organizing and will send a powerful message to abusive employers that wage theft will not be tolerated.”
This year marks the ten year anniversary of the AFL-CIO’s historic partnership with NDLON which sought to end the denial of wages to immigrant workers and opened the door for worker centers to formally participate in the labor movement.
“The launch of this app is very important. This is an example of using technology as a tool for shared prosperity,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We want to make sure that every worker in this country knows that they are not alone. We continue to stand firm on the side of all working people and commit to protecting these day laborer corners the way we will protect our union halls, in the face of any attack”.
Developing the Jornaler@ APP was the result of collaboration initiated and conducted by social practice artist Sol Aramendi with workers, organizers, lawyers and artists at New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE). As the idea began to grow, other worker centers from across New York began participating in the growing conversation. Groups such as El Centro de Inmigrante, La Colmena, the Don Bosco Workers in Port Chester, The Workplace Project in Hempstead, and Obreros Unidos from Yonkers.
Financial support from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades was instrumental in completing the development of the application and delivering it to the workers that will use Jornaler@ all over the country.
“The IUPAT is proud to have worked with our community partners and organizations to help build the framework of a new worker movement for the 21st century” said IUPAT General President Kenneth Rigmaiden. “Wage theft is a costly national epidemic, and this app will serve as a powerful tool to protect the workers who push this country forward every day.”