Category: Press Releases

La Grange Residents Celebrate Saving Paid Sick Days and Minimum Wage

For immediate release: March 14, 2017

La Grange Residents Celebrate Saving

Paid Sick Days and Minimum Wage

March to Village Hall to thank Board for listening to voters


Media Contact: Shelly Ruzicka, Arise Chicago

773-251-5003 | | @AriseChicago


LA GRANGE, IL–In the midst of a growing snow storm, last night dozens of La Grange residents gathered at First Congregational Church in downtown La Grange. They made handmade signs showing their support for Cook County paid sick days and minimum wage increase. Other signs expressed gratitude to the Village Board for keeping La Grange a caring community. The group then gathered outside in the snow, and marched to Village Hall chanting “Ho ho, hey hey, worker rights are here to stay!” gaining attention from passersby and restaurant goers on South La Grange Road.

The march came one month after the La Grange Village Board presented a draft ordinance threatening to opt out of the Cook County paid sick days and minimum wage ordinances–and any future similar ordinances. Shortly after that meeting, community members, including those who are part of Indivisible La Grange/La Grange Park, began organizing. Supported by workers’ rights organization, Arise Chicago, the local residents formed the La Grange Working Families Committee to collectively share their concerns, and act to save both worker protections.

Once the group arrived at Village Hall they shared stories of why they joined the Committee and took action to save La Grange paid sick days and the county minimum wage.

Brecken Cutler, a member of Indivisible La Grange/La Grange Park shared how keeping both ordinances was democratic.

“I’m here tonight as a member of Indivisible LaGrange/LaGrange Park and the Working Families Committee to thank the Village Board and President Livingston for listening to residents like me–who are part of the vast majority of La Grange voters who support paid sick days and a minimum wage for local workers. The voters of LaGrange have spoken on these issues in 2014 and 2016 referendums and overwhelmingly support treating the lowest paid among us with dignity.”

“As drafted, the so-called opt-out ordinance proposed at your February 13th meeting, would have not only blocked workers from receiving the currently proposed Cook County minimum wage and paid sick leave, but also ALL future county-level wage and sick leave ordinances. So it is for both the current protections, and potential future protections, that I celebrate your decision to embrace ethical benefits for La Grange workers. I am so proud that our Village Board listened to the research, listened to the will of its residents”

Eighteen-year-old Nathan Crewe-Kluge agreed saying he voted for paid sick days in the 2016 non-binding ballot referendum.

“I was heartened when Cook County passed the new minimum wage. And I voted in the 2016 referendum for paid sick days. I represent the majority–the vast majority–the 73% of La Grange voters who want paid sick days. When I heard La Grange may opt out, it made me feel like my city didn’t support me, and that my voice and my vote didn’t matter. I’m now so proud to know that my elected officials listen to residents. Proud to know that my voice and vote do matter.”

Residents also gave testimony at the Village Board meeting, sharing why they supported both ordinances, and thanking trustees for listening to voters.

Siobhan Greene is originally from La Grange, and is now raising her family there. She was also concerned when she heard about the Village potentially stripping away rights.

“I work in early childhood education. I’ve experienced first hand what happens when parents don’t have paid sick days. I’ve had to hold a sick child and say, ‘sorry, Mommy can’t come right now’ knowing that this mother risks losing her job by picking up her sick child. This is heartbreaking and no one should have to make that choice.”

“I’m a proud resident of La Grange. I grew up here, and am proud to live here now as an adult, raising my family. I’m even more proud of my hometown this evening, knowing that we will live up to our reputation as a thriving, caring community.”

Long-time resident, active community and Indivisible La Grange/La Grange Park member Jim Longino voiced that fair workplace policies are not only good for workers, but for the community and its reputation.

“If everyone operated fairly we wouldn’t worry about making sure sick leave and fair wages were provided. But some unscrupulous people will take advantage of the absence and cause others to have their business at a competitive disadvantage and thus disadvantage workers. And more importantly, treating employees fairly should never be considered a ‘disadvantage’.”

He went on to thank the board, and also remind them that individuals and groups like Indivisible will continue to actively participate in local issues.

“I would like to thank the board for reviewing the positions and considered the impact dropping out of the county ordinances would have unfairly presented, not only to our workers here, but the message it would have sent about us to the larger community.”

“You’ve done the right thing tonight and I look forward to having your official position of supporting and adhering to the county ordinance for minimum wage and earned sick leave read into the record. I also believe in holding our village officials accountable and they should always be on the forefront of working to better our people and village through actions and future policies.”


Photos available here. Credit any photos to “Arise Chicago”

La Grange residents and march participants available for interview upon request.


Arise Chicago, Workers, Alderman Launch Campaign for Local Labor Office

For immediate release: February 23, 2017

Workers, Alderman Announce Local Labor Office Campaign
Unite to implement Chicago worker protections, on wave of national momentum for local enforcement
Media contact:
Shelly Ruzicka
CHICAGO—Today workers’ rights organization, Arise Chicago, surrounded by aldermen and community allies announced a campaign to open a Chicago Office of Labor Standards to enforce the city’s employment laws—currently anti-wage theft, minimum wage, and paid sick days ordinances. Such an action would join Chicago to the national movement of passing worker protections, and moving to strong local enforcement to ensure those protections are implemented.
Janie Fine, PhD, the national leading expert on labor standards enforcement, of Rutgers University attended the event and emphasized the need for co-enforcement—for the city to partner with trusted groups like worker centers on the ground already in touch with low-wage workers.
 “We have a crisis of employment law enforcement in many of our cities.”
She signaled that local enforcement offices are part of a growing national trend, and that partnering with worker organizations has proven effective.
“Other cities have labor enforcement offices: Seattle, NYC, San Francisco, the state of California, and others. This is the new norm.”
“Workers and workers organizations know things government will never know. So enforcement requires worker participation”
Arise Chicago’s Executive Director highlighted the evidence of non-compliance with current laws across Chicago “A 2009 UIC study found that over $1million per day is stolen from low-wage workers in Cook County.”
“Imagine for a moment what it would be like if we never enforced our parking laws.
Drivers could ignore all ‘No parking’ signs and park wherever they like with no consequences. Our city would be thrown into chaos. That is what has happened to low-wage workers. Their lives have been thrown into chaos.”
Arise Chicago Worker Center member Maria Leon talked about such chaos in her life. 
“I worked as a server for over 5 years at two restaurants in Chicago, owned by the same employer. He paid us under the Chicago minimum wage, stole our credit card tips–only paying them when we asked repeatedly–and did not pay overtime. He thinks he can underpay his workers, because he knows people need the work. He tells workers, if they don’t like the pay, they can leave. But really, he should be held accountable, and pay his workers what they are owed.”
Ms. Leon stressed that enforcement is needed for all Chicago’s employment laws. “If there are employers like mine who did not pay the city minimum wage, there will be employers who do not implement paid sick days when they go into effect. We need an office dedicated to protecting workers’ rights and enforcing all of our city’s employment laws.”
Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35) shared how, after being approached by Arise Chicago, he supported a worker facing wage theft in his ward.
“I am happy to support workers in my ward. And I’ve done that with Arise Chicago members to recover wages. But we need stronger citywide enforcement, connected to community groups on the ground.”

He expressed hope for moving forward.
“Chicago won’t have the first Office of Labor Standards. But working with experts, groups on the ground, and workers, we can have the best Office of Labor Standards.”
Ald. George Cardnas (12) spoke of his own experience growing up in Little Village, the son of Mexican immigrants who experienced workplace problems.
“The Latino community is hard hit by wage theft. An Office of Labor Standards to enforce Chicago employment laws would improve our local community, and the city economy.”
Ald. Ameya Pawar (47) echoed the need for policies to be effective.
“If we are going to pass policies that benefit workers, we also need to enforce them.”
“Enforcing our current local laws is about basic decency and human rights. Other cities have enforcement offices. It’s time for Chicago to catch up and open an Office of Labor Standards”
Ald. John Arena (45) spoke about the need for the city to be open for workers to feel safe reporting violations.
“When workers aren’t paid right or are denied legal benefits, they need a place to find support.”
“It’s important to empower workers to use the benefits they are entitled to, and that city council passed.”

Bob Reiter, Chicago Federation of Labor Secretary-Treasurer agreed.
“If employers steal workers wages, we need a way to get that money back”
“City council has passed some important employment laws. The next logical step is an Office of Labor Standards.”

Worker interviews available upon request in English and Spanish.
Video of the press conference available here

Workers Claim Victory to Cook County Paid Sick Days Legislation


For Immediate release: October 5, 2016


Workers Claim Victory to Cook County Paid Sick Days Legislation

Cook County becomes largest county in the US with paid sick leave legislation


Media Contact: Shelly Ruzicka, Arise Chicago

773-251-5003  /  shelly[at]arisechicago[dot]org  /  @AriseChicago

CHICAGO–Arise Chicago and the Earned Sick Time Coalition claimed victory as the Cook County Board voted to approve an earned sick time ordinance by an overwhelming majority.

Arise member, ChristinaArise Chicago member and food service worker, Christina Padilla testified before the Finance Committee, “I’m here because many employees all over the county, like me, are forced to decide between staying home to recover from illness and going to work and earning a day’s pay without receiving the proper care that we need, simply because if we don’t go to work we run the risk of getting fired. Many employees are often stuck between the two most important things which is their health or a paycheck.”

The victory marks the second local paid sick days ordinance approved this year. The county vote came just months after a June approval by the Chicago City Council. It makes Cook County the largest county in the U.S. with such legislation. The county also joins a growing national movement of cities, counties, and states passing earned sick time legislation.

Like the city ordinance, the county measure will provide workers with up to five paid sick days per year, with workers earning 1 hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked. The accrued paid time can be used for one’s health or the health of a family member. The time can be used for medical visits, in addition to school closings due to public health emergencies and legal appointments related to domestic violence.

Mirroring the Chicago ordinance, the county legislation will go into effect on July 1, 2017.

The ordinance will cover an estimated 441,000 people who work in suburban Cook County. Importantly, many newly covered workers are in the service sector–industries frequently at risk for spreading contagious illnesses due to contact with larges numbers of people.

Commissioners Bridget Gainer (10th) and Jesus Garcia (7th) were lead sponsors on the ordinance, which also had support from President Toni Preckwinkle.

Rev. John Thomas, United Church of Christ pastor and Arise Chicago Board member, helped to gather signatures from 111 religious leaders from throughout Cook County. “This is a significant victory for workers, and those of us in ministry, social services, or health care, who will see the direct impact on families.”

Arise member Martina Sanchez supported the Chicago Paid Sick Days ordinance. Shortly after its passage, her and her husband found new jobs in suburban Cook County, meaning they would not have access to the new legislation. She rejoiced at the Cook County victory. “I’m thrilled for myself and the nearly half a million workers who will benefit from this victory. I’m so happy that the commissioners listened to constituents and workers like me.”

Padilla concluded, “Having paid sick days shouldn’t be a benefit, it should be a right, and not only for those that work in Chicago but also those that work in Cook County. It feels great that we won that right today!”

Contact Shelly Ruzicka for interview requests with affected workers or religious leaders.

Photos available upon request.


The Cook County Earned Sick Time Coalition is:

Arise Chicago, Chicago Federation of Labor, Restaurant Opportunities Center – Chicago, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881, Women Employed

Endorsers: AFSCME Council 31, Action Now, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, American Friends Service Committee, Between Friends, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board of Workers United, Chicago Federation of Musicians, Chicago National Organization for Women, Chicago Religious Leadership Network, Chicago Teachers Union, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Chicago Foundation for Women, Community Renewal Society, Coalition Against Workplace Sexual Violence, Council on American-Islamic Relations, EverThrive Illinois, Illinois Chapter-American Academy of Pediatrics, Illinois Education Association Region 67, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Jobs with Justice-Chicago, Lambda Legal, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, NABET/CWA Local 41, National Council of Jewish Women –  IL State Policy Advocacy Network,, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Employment Lawyers Association – IL, National Nurses United, ONE Northside, ParentsWork, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Raise the Floor, Rape Victim Advocates, Reclaim Chicago, SAG-AFTRA, SEIU Doctors Council, SEIU Local 1, SEIU Local 73, SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, SEIU State Council, Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, Stagehands Local 2, Teamsters 743, Teamsters 777, United Steelworkers District 7, UNITE HERE Local 1, UNITE HERE Local 450, United Electrical Workers Western Region, Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago/Fight for Fifteen, Workers United, Zakat Foundation of America



Illinois Win brings U.S. One State Closer to Protecting All Domestic Workers

Wednesday, August 17th 2016                                                                                                                                             

Español abajo

Domestic Workers Celebrate Hard-Fought Landmark Victory

Win in Illinois brings movement one state closer to securing labor rights for all domestic workers

Media Contact: Shelly Ruzicka
Contact info: 773-251-5003  |  shelly[at]arisechicago[dot]org  | @AriseChicago

(Chicago, IL) — Illinois home cleaners, nannies and care workers celebrated a significant victory in the growing movement for domestic workers’ rights through the state’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. After a five-year campaign led by the Illinois Domestic Workers Coalition, the state’s 35,000 workers won a monumental change in state law. The 1938 federal Fair Labor Standards Act explicitly excluded domestic workers, majority of whom are Black women, women of color and immigrant women, and was mimicked by many states, including Illinois.
Following years of worker organizing, on Friday August 12th, Gov. Rauner signed House Bill 1288 into law granting Illinois domestic workers the same protections that other workers have had for generations.

Maggie at victory presserPolish domestic worker and Arise Chicago Board member Magdalena Zylinska reflected on the five-year Illinois Domestic Worker Coalition’s campaign: “This is one step in a long process. After so many years of struggling to get by, and so many trips to Springfield, I can finally say that we won! Now we need to make sure that all domestic workers know their rights, and that employers know their responsibilities under the new law.”


The new law, sponsored by Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-8th District) in the Senate, and Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez (D-24th District) in the House, ensures that home cleaners, nannies, care workers, and other domestic workers receive the state minimum wage, protection against sexual harassment, as well as a day of rest if they are employed by one employer for at least 20 hours a week by amending four state laws that previously excluded domestic workers: the Minimum Wage Law, the Illinois Human Rights Act, the One Day of Rest in Seven Act, and the Wages of Women and Minors Act.

House sponsor Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez noted the importance of the domestic workforce in Illinois: “Domestic workers are essential for the economy, but too often are excluded. That is, until now.”

Workers like Maria Esther Bolaños shared stories of working without legal protections: “When I started working as a nanny, I worked from 6am to 5pm earning $12 a day. With the signing of this law, we have come out of the shadows. Domestic workers are finally visible in society, with equal protections under the law. Together, we are going to make history.”

Wendy Pollack, director of the Women’s Law and Policy Project at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law who led the legislative advocacy on the bill, explained the employer mindset change: “We talk to employers, many of them sincerely care about the workers they employ, and often think of them as part of the family, but then they don’t make the leap to the fact that there exists an employer-employee relationship between them. That’s why we plan to do outreach and education for both domestic workers and their employers about their rights and responsibilities under the new state law and the existing federal law.“

Yomara Velez, States Strategy Organizer at the National Domestic Workers Alliance, noted the significance of the Illinois victory on a national scale: “The Illinois Domestic Workers Bill of Rights marks the seventh state win of the domestic workers movement, which had its first legislative victory in New York in 2010. We are another state closer to ensuring that all domestic workers, who care for our children, our loved ones living with disabilities, our aging parents, and our homes, have respect, dignity, and the support to take care of their own families.”

Home care worker Grace Padao reflected on the coalition and the path to victory, “We won because we are organized. We won because we are united. We won because we are brave women who stood in front of politicians and said, we will not be denied! From this day forward, domestic workers in Illinois will never have to endure the conditions I did.”

Rev. Oscar Varnadoe gave a blessing over the workers, prefacing his prayer with his own connection to the campaign: “This is personal. My mother was a domestic worker. As a young boy growing up in the Englewood community, I saw what she was going through. Blessings you my sisters for the work have done and for the work ahead.”

*Domestic Workers are available for interview in English, Spanish, and Polish
*Photos available upon request

The Illinois Domestic Workers’ Coalition is powered by local organizations, including AFIRE Chicago, Arise Chicago, Latino Union, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Women Employed, Heartland Alliance, and SEIU-HCII, as well as domestic workers, advocacy and community groups, and allies. The Coalition is supported by the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States. For more information, please visit:

ASESOR DE PRENSA: Miercoles, 17 de agosto, 2016

Contacto: Shelly Ruzicka  |  773-251-5003  |shelly[at]arisechicago[dot]org   | @AriseChicago

Trabajadoras del Hogar Celebran Victoria Reñida Histórica
Victoria en Illinois consigue que la mayoría de las trabajadoras del hogar en el país obtengan protecciones legales

(Chicago, IL) – En Illinois, individuos que limpian casas, niñeras y trabajadoras de cuidado domiciliario celebran una victoria significativa en el creciente movimiento por los derechos de las trabajadoras del hogar a través de la primera Carta de Derechos para Trabajadoras del Hogar. Después de una campaña de cinco años dirigida por la Coalición de las Trabajadoras del Hogar de Illinois, las trabajadoras ganaron un cambio monumental dentro de leyes estatales. La ley federal de 1938 conocida en inglés como Fair Labor Standards Act, excluye expresamente a las trabajadoras del hogar, la mayoría de las cuales son mujeres negras, mujeres de color y mujeres inmigrantes, fue replicada por muchos estados, incluyendo Illinois.

Después de años de esta campaña laboral, el pasado viernes 12 de agosto el gobernador Rauner firmó el HB1288 a ley cediendo a las trabajadoras del hogar las mismas protecciones laborales que otros trabajadores han tenido durante generaciones.

Magdalena Zylinska, trabajadora del hogar Polaca refleja en la campaña de cinco años: “Este es un paso parte de un largo proceso. Después de tantos años de lucha, y así muchos viajes a Springfield, por fin puedo decir que ganamos! Ahora tenemos que asegurarnos de que todas las trabajadoras conozcan sus derechos, y que los empleadores conozcan sus responsabilidades en virtud a la nueva ley.”

La nueva ley, patrocinada por el senador estatal Ira Silverstein (D-Distrito 8) y la representante estatal Elizabeth Hernández (D-Distrito 24), proveerá a niñeras, limpiadoras de casas, trabajadoras de cuidado domiciliario, y otras trabajadoras del hogar acceso al salario mínimo estatal, protección contra el acoso sexual, así como un día de descanso para las trabajadoras empleadas durante al menos 20 horas a la semana mediante la modificación de cuatro leyes estatales. Estas incluyen la ley del salario mínimo, la ley de derechos humanos de Illinois, la ley de un día de descanso en siete, y la ley de los salarios de menores y mujeres.

La representante estatal Elizabeth Hernández, patrocinadora de la ley dentro de la cámara de representantes, señaló la importancia de este sector de trabajo en Illinois, “Las trabajadoras del hogar son esenciales para la economía, pero a menudo han sido excluidas. Es decir, hasta ahora “.

Trabajadoras como María Esther Bolaños compartieron sus experiencias en el trabajo sin alguna protección legal, “Cuando empecé a trabajar como niñera, trabajaba de 6am a 5pm ganando solo $12 al día. Con esta ley, hemos salido de las sombras. Las trabajadoras del hogar finalmente son visibles en la sociedad con protecciones iguales ante la ley. Juntas, vamos a hacer historia.”

Wendy Pollack, directora del derecho de mujer y proyecto político en el Centro Nacional de Sargent Shriver, quien dirigió la defensa legislativa en esta ley, explicó: “Hablamos con los empleadores que sinceramente se preocupan por las trabajadoras y a menudo piensan en ellas como parte de su familia pero luego no dan el salto al hecho de que existe una relación de empleador-empleado entre ellos. Es por eso que vamos a hacer alcance y proveer educación tanto para las trabajadoras del hogar y sus empleadores sobre sus derechos y responsabilidades en virtud de la nueva ley estatal y la legislación federal vigente.”

Yomara Velez, Organizadora de Estrategia Estatal para la Alianza Nacional de Trabajadores del Hogar señaló la importancia de la victoria de Illinois en una escala nacional, “Con la victoria en Illinois, ahora más de la mitad de todas las trabajadoras del hogar en el país tienen protecciones laborales, gracias a la la lucha de estas mujeres fuertes.”

Gracia Padao, trabajadora de cuidado domiciliario, refleja en la coalición y el camino a la victoria: “Ganamos porque nos organizamos. Ganamos porque estamos unidas. Ganamos porque somos mujeres valientes que nos pusimos delante de los políticos y dijimos, no seremos negadas! A partir de hoy, trabajadoras del hogar en Illinois nunca tendrán que soportar las condiciones que yo viví.”

El Reverendo Oscar Varnadoe dio una bendición sobre las trabajadoras por la lucha que han dirigido, y su trabajo por venir, antes de su oración compartió su conexión personal con la campaña. “Mi madre fue una trabajadora del hogar. Como niño creciendo en la comunidad de Englewood, vi lo que ella paso. Así que esto es personal.”

*Trabajadoras del hogar están disponibles para entrevistas en Inglés, español y polaco.

Sobre la Coalición de Trabajadoras del Hogar de Illinois

Desde 2011, la Coalición de Trabajadoras del Hogar de Illinois ha tratado de aprobar la Carta de Derechos de Trabajadoras del Hogar en Illinois. La Coalición se compuesta de Unión Latina, AFIRE y Arise Chicago, junto con aliados y grupos de la comunidad, tales como Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the Heartland Alliance, Women Employed, SEIU/HCII, and The Chicago Coalition of Household Workers. La Coalición está apoyada por la Alianza Nacional de Trabajadores del Hogar, la voz principal de la nación por la dignidad y la justicia para los millones de trabajadoras del hogar en los Estados Unidos. Para más información:


Car Wash Owner Files for Bankruptcy to Avoid $262,901 Owed to Workers

Car Wash Owner Files for Bankruptcy to

Avoid Paying $262,901 Owed to Workers

Media Contact:

Jorge Mújica, Arise Chicago

Miguel Angel Fernandez May 19, 2016   773-844-9910

Eight former workers from Little Village Carwash were shocked and outraged this morning when they found out that their former employer, Octavio Rodriguez, instead of presenting his case in Cook County Court, decided to file bankruptcy to avoid paying the $262,000 in wages and damages as ordered by the Illinois Department of Labor.

“When I found out the owner filed for bankruptcy, I felt scammed. We know that he owns other businesses, including two restaurants. He has the money” said former “carwashero” Miguel Angel Martinez. “When we filed our claim for owed wages, Octavio told us he’d rather pay a lawyer than give us a penny. But he has the money and the government said he had to pay.”

“We thought the wait for our wages was over after more than three years, and instead find ourselves at the beginning of a new legal battle,” says former Little Village worker Alfredo Ramirez.

“Owner of the former Little Village Car Wash, Octavio Rodriguez owns several houses and buildings, an upscale Mexican restaurant in suburban Summit, and a pizzeria in Chicago. He  sold the car wash last year for $1.5 million. He has the money, but simply does not want to pay his former workers,” said Jorge Mújica, an organizer with Arise Chicago, who has supported the workers in their nearly four-year pursuit of justice.

Like other abusive employers, Octavio Rodriguez used loopholes in the law to avoid paying workers their legally owed wages.

“Unfortunately, this is a practice is all too common among employers of low-wage workers”, said Sophia Zaman, Executive Director of Raise the Floor. Cases like Little Village Car Wash have inspired Arise Chicago and seven other Chicago-area worker centers, under the Raise the Floor Alliance umbrella, to introduce HB 1290. This bill would allow workers to place a wage lien on employers to prevent them from moving or selling assets in order to avoid payment of owed wages to workers. Additionally, it would prioritize workers’ claims for wages over the claims of other creditors when employers declare bankruptcy.  

The former Little Village Car Wash workers voiced their support for HB1290. Had it been in effect now, they would have the ability to collect the legally owed wages and damages awarded by the Illinois Department of Labor.


Little Village Car Wash worker action 2011

Little Village Car Wash worker action 2011

Arise Chicago first started supporting the Little Village Car Wash workers in 2011. After training workers on their rights, Arise found that the owner had systematized extreme wage theft. Rather than pay the legally required minimum hourly wage, car wash owner Octavio Rodriguez divided $5 per car washed among all workers in the crew, regardless of the number working. This often meant workers received 50 cents per car, and on slow work days, went home with as little as $20 for an entire 12-hour day of work.

Workers first filed claims with the US Department of Labor in 2011, won their claims, and the owner began paying correctly. However, after six months, Rodriguez went back to his old practices of stealing wages. Trained and supported by Arise Chicago, the workers then filed claims with the Illinois Department of Labor in late 2012. In May 2013 the workers won their claim, with IDOL ruling that they were entitled to back pay and damages, totaling $262,901. Because the owner never paid, the Illinois Attorney General sued him in October of 2014. The workers had a court date for Thursday, May 19, where they expected to hear a ruling from a Cook County Circuit Court judge on payment up to $262,901. Instead, they received news that their former employer was skirting his legal obligation by filing for bankruptcy.

The full Illinois Attorney General lawsuit can be found here.

Photos from Wednesday May 19, 2016 press conference and previous worker actions in 2011 and 2013 are available upon request.

Interviews with workers available upon request.



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