–FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–
CONTACT: Rosanna Rodríguez, 347-440-3665, [email protected]
What: Cleaning the Violations: Launch of Labor Campaign in Brooklyn.
Where: Sunshine Shirt Laundry Center Inc
NEW YORK, February 19th– Laundromat workers in New York City face daily fundamental human and labor violations in their workplaces. As a fragmented and often isolated workforce, laundromat workers face unique vulnerabilities and challenges when it comes to organizing or advocating for their rights. Those violations come in different forms from sexual harassment to paying below minimum wage or not paying overtime hours.
This past Saturday, February 16th, workers at Sunshine Shirt Laundry Center in Brooklyn, NY publicly launched their labor campaign, a citywide effort to ensure that the voices of retail laundromat workers are heard in their workplaces, the community, and the lobbies of City Hall. The employees were surrounded by 85 community supporters and the Laundry Workers Center. The employees delivered to the owner a demand letter to end wage theft, dangerous conditions, and physical abuses in their workplace. Ricarda Mosso, a laundromat worker and leader, highlighted the unacceptable conditions at the workplace:
“I am an immigrant woman and mother of two, and I cannot support my family with this misery salary. I have worked for 15 years under physical abuse, without ventilation during the summers and no heating during the winter. I have not been paid a minimum wage salary nor overtime. I will not remain silent anymore, and we demand better wages and better working conditions. I want to be treated with respect and with dignity like a human being.”
The Laundry Workers Center (LWC) is a not-for-profit organization that empowers low wage workers in NY and NJ. LWC has supported the efforts of these workers in their quest for justice. For six months, LWC has provided private legal and educational training and support to the workers for their efforts to end exploitation in their workplace. The workers are demanding real changes in their workplace. Employees are working under conditions that are not safe to their health. They are working without receiving a minimum wage, in violation of federal and state laws. One of the most despicable behaviors of management is the continuous physical abuse to one of the employees. The owners have ignored for years the demands of the workers to improve the working conditions in the workplace. As employee María García articulated:
“We talked to the employer about improving the working conditions, and he responded to us by laughing. Today, we are empowered with the support of the community. We are not alone in this struggle; it gives me the strength to continue organizing for change.” María García
This effort is an eye-opening labor organizing campaign to assure that the laundry industry here in NYC and beyond follows the law and respects the rights of the workers who serve our communities. The Laundry Workers Center is a worker and community organizing group that has received wide recognition for helping immigrant and low-wage workers defend their rights, including at B&H Photo Video and the Hot and Crusty Bakery (as shown in the award-winning documentary “The Hand That Feeds”).