Daniel and Fabián are both construction maintenance workers, fathers, husbands and former undocumented immigrants.
A Decade of Abuse:
For nearly a decade, they worked for a non-union employer, where they endured long hours, low pay, verbal abuse, discrimination and an unsafe work environment with numerous health and safety violations. They were on call 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, but they were never paid overtime or paid for work done outside of normal business hours. They received no pay raises over the last five years of their employment. Because they were working without proper documentation, Daniel and Fabián felt they could do nothing to better their situation. Like so many immigrant workers, they were stuck and felt helpless.
A Fight to Unionize:
When Daniel, Fabián and others finally decided to reach out to LIUNA for help improving their working conditions and pay, their employer retaliated by running an illegal campaign meant to intimidate the workers into submission. This employer used their immigration status against them, threatening both legal action and reporting them to federal authorities. Despite these illegal intimidation tactics, Daniel, Fabián and the others chose to continue their efforts to unionize. A week before their scheduled vote to unionize, in December 2012, Daniel and Fabián were unjustly fired and evicted from their employer-owned homes – a clear attempt to interfere with the workers’ organizing efforts.
Being fired and evicted wasn’t just damaging to Daniel and Fabián. It also negatively impacted their families. Daniel faced significant difficulty in finding new employment as an undocumented worker. The loss of his home and income threatened Daniel’s children’s ability to continue their education. The stress of the firing and eviction aggravated Fabián’s wife’s diabetes and she became very ill. She threatened Fabián with a divorce and his son refused to speak to him for weeks.
The LIUNA Difference:
Despite the significant hardships facing their families, Daniel, Fabián and the others chose to join LIUNA as members of Local 55. And even before the organizing vote, LIUNA stood in defense of Daniel, Fabián and the others, filing unfair labor practices against the non-union employer for its illegal actions. Local 55 members helped Daniel, Fabián and the others find new employment with union contractors, where they finally earned a fair wage for an honest day’s work. Local 55 members also made wellness visits to the families of the newest members, to help ease tensions, provide moral support and assure them that things would work out.
After securing new housing and union jobs, Daniel, Fabián and several others decided to continue the fight and, along with LIUNA and other organizations, waged a four-year campaign to obtain legal worker status. This past December, Daniel and Fabián received U-Visas, which allows them to work legally in the United States.