Solicitudes Abren para el Fondo de Ayuda para Inmigrantes COVID-19 de Washington

Las solicitudes ahora están abiertas para el Fondo de Ayuda para Inmigrantes COVID-19 de Washington

Estamos en la séptima mes de la crisis de COVID, y los trabajadores indocumentados todavía no han recibido ninguna forma de alivio del gobierno — pero esto acaba de cambiar. A partir de hoy, los trabajadores indocumentados pueden presentar una solicitud al Fondo de Ayuda para Inmigrantes COVID-19 de Washington, el cual dará ayuda económica a inmigrantes indocumentados que son son excluidos por las reglas federales de recibir los cheques de estímulo y los beneficios de desempleo.

Este nuevo fondo de ayuda es el resultado de una campaña larga y dura, que fue liderada por una amplia coalición de trabajadores indocumentados y más de 400 organizaciones comunitarias. Bajo una presión sostenida de la coalición para exigir una ayuda de emergencia para la comunidad, el Gobernador Inslee aprobó un fondo de $40 millones para proveer asistencia financiera directa a los inmigrantes indocumentados en nuestro estado, quienes son excluidos de los programas federales de alivio y también de los beneficios de desempleo. 

Los trabajadores indocumentados en Washington ahora pueden enviar una solicitud para recibir un pago único y directo de $1,000 por persona que califique (hasta $3,000 por hogar). Se puede enviar una solicitud hasta el 6 de diciembre.

El fondo es administrado por organizaciones comunitarias dirigidas por inmigrantes en Washington — las mismas personas que exigieron la creación de este fondo. Las únicas personas que tienen acceso a la información personal de un solicitante son Scholarship Junkies (la organización comunitaria que administra el fondo), Fair Work Center y Seattle Credit Union (que distribuye el dinero). No compartiremos su información con nadie más. La información personal nunca se compartirá en forma intencional con el gobierno, Inmigración y Control de Aduana (ICE), la policía, su arrendador, su empleador ni alguna otra persona. La regla de carga pública no aplica a esta ayuda. Recibir asistencia mediante este fondo no debería afectar su capacidad para obtener una visa o tarjeta de residencia. Trabajadores elegibles pueden enviar una solicitud en línea, por teléfono, o por servicio postal,  y la solicitud está disponible en varios idiomas. 

>>HAGA CLIC AQUÍ para aprender más sobre el Fondo de Ayuda para Inmigrantes COVID-19 de Washington y para enviar una solicitud.

Este fondo de ayuda es un paso importante para abordar la exclusión de los trabajadores indocumentados en la respuesta del gobierno al COVID-19. El estado de Washington se une con los estados de Oregon y California como los únicos tres en los EEUU que están dando ayuda financiera a los inmigrantes indocumentados durante esta crisis. 

Pero a medida que celebramos $40 millones en ayuda, el trabajo no ha acabado, y se necesitará una financiación mayor para dar fondos a todos con necesidad. Más de 250,000 personas indocumentadas viven en el estado de Washington — y desde el principio, la coalición ha exigido $100 millones en asistencia del estado. El fondo como existe ahora no es suficiente.

Y sabemos que tampoco es suficiente dar una asistencia de una sola vez mientras los trabajadores enfrentan una crisis económica tan grave. Todos los trabajadores — sin importar su estatus migratorio, sin importar el tipo de trabajo que se hace, y sin importar donde se vive — necesitan acceso a una garantía social que asegura la seguridad económica, sobre todo en tiempos de crisis.

Para hacerlo una realidad, la coalición exige al Gobernador y a la legislatura estatal crear un sistema permanente de subsidio de ingresos para los trabajadores indocumentados y las otras personas que son excluidos de los beneficios de desempleo, incluyendo muchos contratistas independientes, personas que trabajan por su propia cuenta, y trabajadores de agricultura.   

La creación del Fondo de Ayuda para Inmigrantes COVID-19 de Washington muestra que es posible diseñar e implementar un sistema estatal que provee una ayuda de emergencia a la comunidad indocumentada. Ahora, necesitamos que nuestros líderes se comprometan a crear un sistema permanente. Trabajadores inmigrantes están invitados a compartir sus opiniones sobre este propuesto sistema en esta encuesta comunitaria, disponible en español.

Juntos aseguramos que todos los trabajadores en nuestro estado reciben el apoyo y el alivio que necesitan — durante esta crisis y adelante.

DoorDash and Postmates agree to pay workers over $360K for violating Seattle hazard pay law

 

Seattle is making the gig economy pay up — this time, to the tune of $361,950. That’s how much DoorDash and Postmates agreed to pay workers for violations of Seattle’s first-in-the-nation hazard pay law, which requires large food and grocery delivery companies to pay workers an additional $2.50/delivery during the coronavirus emergency.

Gig companies like DoorDash and Postmates like to think they’re above the law, but the Seattle Office of Labor Standards just took action to hold them accountable. Workers filed complaints with OLS after noticing they weren’t seeing hazard pay correctly added to all their deliveries on the DoorDash and Postmates apps, which prompted an audit. OLS reached an agreement with the companies, compelling them to make workers whole by promptly providing back pay and interest.

Earlier this summer, gig workers in Seattle came together to win the right to hazard pay — and now, workers are standing up to make sure that this right is enforced.

Thousands of impacted drivers in Seattle received money they were owed as a result of this enforcement action. It’s the first-ever government labor standards enforcement action that actually moves money from gig company corporate bank accounts into gig workers’ pockets.

In addition to this $361,950 award, thousands of workers have been receiving their additional $2.50 in hazard pay for every delivery in Seattle since late June on DoorDash, Postmates, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Instacart, Shipt, and other food delivery platforms. Hazard pay for these essential workers will remain in effect for the length of the coronavirus pandemic.

Learn more about Seattle gig workers’ rights to hazard pay and sick leave here, and if you’re doing gig delivery work, let us know what you’re seeing, delivery-by-delivery, with our hazard pay tracker. Together, we can continue to hold gig companies accountable, protect our rights, and make sure gig workers get paid what they’re owed.

Wildfire smoke & your right to paid sick days // El humo de los incendios forestales y los días pagados de enfermedad

Esta noticia se puede leer en español abajo.

Attention Washington workers: you have the right to take paid sick time to protect your health from the wildfire smoke currently choking our state. 

Wildfire smoke is unhealthy for everyone, and you do not have to provide details as to why you are taking a sick day. For example, you can simply say you are taking a sick day because you have a cough, a headache, or another health symptom associated with exposure to smoke. As always, you also have the right to take a sick day if you have a sick family member, and during the COVID emergency you can also use sick days if a child’s school or place of care has been closed for any health-related reason by order of a public official.

The company you work for cannot legally ask for a doctor’s note or other documentation unless you take more than three consecutive sick days, and they cannot retaliate against you for using sick time you have accrued.

If you do gig delivery work in Seattle, you ALSO have access to paid sick days, and you can also take a sick day due to smoke. More info on gig workers’ right to sick days here.

Español:

Atención trabajadores en Washington: tienen el derecho de tomar tiempo pagado de enfermedad para proteger su salud del humo de los incendios forestales, que actualmente está amenazando a todos partes de nuestro estado. 

El humo de los incendios forestales es peligroso para todo el mundo, y no hay que dar detalles a su empleador cuando usted tome un día de enfermedad. Por ejemplo, es suficiente decir a su empleador que usted está tomando un día de enfermedad porque tiene tos, jaqueca, u otro síntoma relacionado con exposición al humo. Como siempre, también se puede usar los días de enfermedad para cuidar a un familiar que está enfermo, y durante la emergencia de COVID se puede usar los días de enfermedad para cuidar a los niños si se cierra la escuela o guardería por orden de una autoridad sanitaria. 

La compañía para la que usted trabaja no está permitido pedirle una nota de un médico u otra forma de documentación hasta que usted tome 3 días de enfermedad pagado consecutivamente, y no pueden poner represalias contra usted por usar sus días de enfermedad. 

Si usted trabaja como trabajador de entregas independiente, también tiene el derecho de tomar los días pagados de enfermedad, y también puede tomar un día de enfermedad debido al humo. Más información aquí sobre su derecho de tomar horas pagadas de enfermedad.

Gig workers in Seattle win new protections

Gig workers are essential workers, bringing us the food and goods we’ve needed for the last six months. Workers with the PayUp campaign have been relentlessly speaking out about the need for essential protections, during the crisis and in the long run. And it’s working: gig workers in Seattle recently won first-in-the-nation hazard pay and sick leave ordinances.

Hazard Pay

Food gig delivery drivers are entitled to $2.50 in hazard pay for each restaurant or grocery delivery you make inside the Seattle city limits. Hazard pay must be listed separately on your pay report, and paid out on top of what you would otherwise be paid. The hazard pay requirement took effect on Friday July 26th at 8:30pm, and continues for as long as the city’s official coronavirus state of emergency is in effect.

Paid Sick Days

Gig delivery workers and Uber/Lyft drivers now have the right to take paid sick days. You’ll start off with a certain number of paid sick days based on how much you’ve worked back to October of last year, and you’ll continue to accrue paid sick days going forward at a rate of 1 day for every 30 days you work. When you take a paid sick day, you’ll get paid based on your average daily compensation, including tips. No doctor’s note or other documentation is required to take a sick day during the coronavirus pandemic. The sick days law took effect on Monday, July 13th.

Like all Seattle labor standards, these laws apply to work done within Seattle city limits. Help us enforce the law — use our hazard pay tracker to let us know what you’re seeing, app by app and job by job.

Fair Work Center launches Know Your Rights training series for airport workers

Do you work at SEA Airport? SeaTac Proposition 1 protects the rights of workers at most large airport, transportation, and hospitality businesses in SeaTac. Under Prop. 1 you have the right to:

  • The second-highest minimum wage in the country: $16.34 in 2020
  • Keep all the tips and service charges you earn 
  • Find out first about additional hours, before new part-time workers are hired
  • Paid sick and safe time 
  • Also, under state law you have the right to paid family leave & meal and rest breaks for every shift you work. 

Alongside Partner in Employment, Fair Work Center has launched a series of Know Your Rights trainings for airport workers. These workers are facing layoffs, reduced hours, and an unpredictable future as a result of the pandemic crisis — which is why it’s more important than ever to enforce Prop. 1 labor standards. We are offering these trainings in English and in Somali to reach African immigrant workers, while PIE is providing these trainings in French, Swahili and Spanish. We will make sure to provide trainings in other languages as needed.

For more information and to sign up for this free training series, visit our SEA Airport Workers page.

Unprecedented challenges, powerful victories

 

 

This year has laid bare the stark inequalities in our society. Six months into the pandemic crisis, workers face unprecedented challenges: many workers are taking on additional risk at work, and employers are often failing to enact appropriate safety measures. The Senate has so far failed to provide adequate relief money, choosing to make it harder for us to pay our bills and survive this crisis. Hundreds of thousands of Washington workers are still unemployed and navigating a system full of delays and missing benefits payments. Meanwhile, wage theft and other workplace violations are spiking — and those violations are disproportionately impacting workers of color. 

 

Yet, in the face of these historic challenges, workers are coming together in powerful ways. A coalition of undocumented immigrants and community organizations just won a relief fund for undocumented immigrants. Gig workers in Seattle recently won sick leave and hazard pay ordinances, building momentum in the fight for a permanent pay standard. And Fair Work Center is still providing legal services and offering Know Your Rights workshops, which have shifted to virtual online events in order to reach workers remotely.

 

With Labor Day this week, we celebrate the powerful victories achieved when workers come together. Click on the stories below to learn more about how Fair Work Center is supporting worker organizing during these challenging times:

Washington State creates a relief fund for undocumented immigrant workers

Fair Work Center launches Know Your Rights training series for airport workers 

Gig workers in Seattle win new protections

Washington State is stepping up to provide relief for undocumented workers

 

Para leer esta noticia en español, haga clic aquí.

Congress and the Trump administration have intentionally excluded undocumented immigrants from all federal pandemic support—but Washington state is finally stepping up to provide undocumented workers with financial relief. 

After months of relentless organizing by undocumented workers and a broad coalition of 430 organizations, we’re celebrating a hard-fought win: Governor Inslee just announced $40 million in direct relief for undocumented workers. The newly-created Washington Worker Relief Fund will provide one-time cash assistance of up to $1000/person. With this fund, Washington joins California and Oregon as the only states to provide relief to undocumented workers. 

It’s about time. The Washington Worker Relief Fund will put much-needed money into the hands of thousands of undocumented workers, who haven’t seen any government relief since the pandemic took hold in March. 

Applications for individuals to receive funding are not yet open. There will be a separate sign-up process this fall to apply for funding. The Governor’s office is currently working to identify a community organization that will receive the funds and ensure that the money is equitably distributed to those who need it most. Click here to receive updates about the fund and the application process once it opens.

 

“The least we can do is create this worker relief fund, but it’s not the last thing we should do.” — WA State Senator & Fair Work Center board member Rebecca Saldaña  

 

The fund will provide cash assistance for thousands of immigrant families, but the $40 million commitment isn’t enough to meet the actual need. Washington is home to more than 270,000 undocumented workers, and they’ve been excluded from hundreds of millions of dollars in economic relief during the pandemic so far, including the $1,200 stimulus checks that went out in April and the $600 additional unemployment benefits that most workers received. 

Despite the fact that undocumented workers are overrepresented in the some of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic — like restaurants and hospitality — many are still facing a complete loss of income. Without any income support, many workers are left with no choice but to seek out some kind of work, despite being high-risk themselves or having family members who are high-risk — that’s a problem when it comes to controlling the spread of the virus and protecting the public health. To tackle this public health crisis effectively, all workers must have economic security.  

But at its current size, the Worker Relief Fund simply won’t get emergency relief to everyone who needs it. That’s why, from the start, our coalition has been calling for at least $100 million — and it’s why we’ll continue to fight to make sure the state invests another $60 million into the fund. 

Federal rules continue to bar undocumented workers from accessing unemployment insurance. These new one-time payments aren’t enough for any unemployed worker to weather this massive economic crisis. We need the Governor and the state legislature to step up and create a permanent income support system for undocumented workers.

We’ll be keeping the pressure on our elected officials and continuing to push the state to invest in a strong safety net for everyone, regardless of immigration status: all workers should have economic security, especially during times of crisis.

Supporting workers during this crisis


It’s a time of unparalleled crisis for workers across Washington and across the country. Since the pandemic took hold back in March, Fair Work Center has supported workers organizing for health, safety, and justice. Fruit packing house workers in Yakima are standing up for their health and calling out longstanding abuses in the workplace. Hundreds of thousands of workers in Washington State are unemployed or facing dangerous work conditions, and many are struggling to pay bills and feed their families. Amidst it all, millions of people across the nation are joining in the transformative movement for Black lives, raising their voices in support of a sweeping vision for racial and economic justice.

Read on to learn about the ways that Fair Work Center is supporting workers during this crisis: 


Yakima workers strike for safety and health

“As workers, we all have rights and we should assert our rights, because if we don’t assert them ourselves, the employers aren’t going to respect them…I’ll stay on strike until they give us a good response. I’ll stay here until they tell us that they’ll give us a wage increase, until they say that they won’t retaliate against us, that they won’t humiliate us – all of that.”  

– Striking Yakima worker

“I don’t see how they’re protecting our health. I’m one of the many who was infected with the coronavirus….I let my immediate supervisors know once I knew I was sick with the virus. But they never told any of my coworkers that I was even sick, that they had been exposed.” 

– Striking Yakima worker

 

More than one hundred workers at the Allan Bros fruit packing house walked out on strike in May after 14 co-workers tested positive for COVID-19 and the company didn’t take the appropriate steps to keep people safe. Their call for hazard pay and COVID safety protections quickly spread across the Yakima Valley, with more than 1000 workers joining picket lines at seven different packing houses. 

These workers took action together to address unsafe working conditions and years of abuse. Click to hear from workers in their own words about the dangerous conditions that led them to walk off the job.

A coalition of community organizations – including Familias Unidas, Community to Community Development, Washington State Labor Council, Columbia Legal Services, and Fair Work Center – quickly coalesced to support workers’ calls for a safe and healthy workplace. Fair Work Center supported workers in filing more than 180 health and safety complaints with the Department of Labor & Industries and provided know-your-rights trainings on the strike lines.

It’s been decades since a strike wave like this shook our state. Workers ended their strikes after managers at several warehouses negotiated directly with workers, with many companies promising to improve safety conditions. Unfortunately, many workers aren’t seeing the agreed-upon changes and are facing retaliation from management. That’s why some workers are now organizing to form an independent labor union to permanently increase their power in the workplace, raise pay, and address safety issues in the packing houses.

Fair Work Center is partnering with some of the workers who led the strikes to create a promotora program, which will train workers to facilitate health and safety workshops for their coworkers. This means that more workers will be able to identify violations of their rights, take collective action, and get connected with legal assistance during this time of crisis. 

Know Your Rights during the coronavirus crisis

Workers across Washington are facing severe impacts of the coronavirus crisis: layoffs, hours cut, issues with sick pay and childcare, and hazards on the job. Fair Work Center & Working Washington have created a guide to help you navigate your rights and the benefits you can access.

 The guide includes information about your rights and benefits under pre-existing WA laws, and new rights and benefits that are available due to emergency measures. The page is updated frequently as we learn of new emergency measures and programs.

Visit the page to learn more about your rights during this crisis.

In solidarity with the movement for Black Lives

Our organization stands in solidarity with the movement for Black lives and the powerful protests in Seattle, across Washington, and all across the country. We join the call for dignity and justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, James Scurlock, David McAtee, Charleena Lyles, and the thousands of other Black lives taken by police officers and white supremacist violence. 

We know that there is no worker justice without racial justice. Workers’ rights organizations like ours must prioritize and raise up the issues faced by Black workers in and out of work. Many of our community members are directly impacted by racism and police violence, and our movement must support Black organizers who are on the ground fighting for justice. 

Read our full statement.

Hear from striking Yakima workers

More than one hundred workers at the Allan Bros fruit packing house walked out on strike in May after 14 co-workers tested positive for COVID-19 and the company didn’t take the appropriate steps to keep people safe. Their call for hazard pay and COVID safety protections quickly spread across the Yakima Valley, with more than 1000 workers joining picket lines at seven different packing houses.

Read what two Yakima workers had to say about the dangerous conditions that led them to walk off the job:

 

Angelina

“My coworkers and I went on strike due to the hazards we’re facing at work because of the coronavirus. We have very little safety right now inside the plant. We’re not given the proper equipment to protect ourselves or our families when we go home. 

I don’t see how they’re protecting our health. I’m one of the many who was infected with the coronavirus. Some of my coworkers have two year olds, elderly people they take care of, and I wanted to be considerate of others and protect them as well. I let my immediate supervisors know once I knew I was sick with the virus. But they never told any of my coworkers that I was even sick, that they had been exposed. Nothing whatsoever, even though I gave management permission to use my name so that my coworkers could be made aware of the hazard they were put in.

I have a coworker who was removed from her job area when she complained she was sick. Immediately they put someone else there to continue her  job duties, without disinfecting the area or letting anybody else know that she might have the virus. The company does not pay you when you get sick, therefore there are people that will not report that they’re sick — and will come to work sick — because they know they’re not gonna get paid for the time they miss. 

This is something that we endure every single day. Now that the virus has become hazardous to our health, we don’t get consideration from the company. Not even just to give workers a little heads up if we’ve been exposed, so we can go home and protect our family. We’re expected to just come to work — and if you get sick, you get sick.

When I started here working at Allan Bros. back in October, I was never really trained for the job. They had the understanding that I was just gonna start working and understand the process of how it’s done. 

My job is stressful. Due to the rapid flow of the apples, at times we don’t get breaks to go to the restroom or to drink water, which is really hard on our health. There are people who have fainted while they’re packing because of the rapid work environment. There’s a particular machine that gives us a lot of back-ache and knee pain. This is a machine that’s run at such a fast pace that really it’s not friendly to humans. It’s friendly to productivity. 

They expect you to grab three or four apples at a time. Sometimes, we can’t feel our arms, we can’t feel our fingers, we can’t feel our knees. If you don’t work at this fast pace, they call attention to you. You can get in trouble for not working fast enough. 

We have tried to address these concerns with our supervisors. The machines are causing us long-term injuries, but when we report any injuries, we’re told that it’s arthritis. Some of my coworkers have had injuries for years, because of the rapid workflow that we endure during our ten-hour shifts.

I don’t see how they’re protecting us or our families. We don’t want to fear that our employer is going to retaliate against us because we speak out. When the visitors come in for inspections, they run the machines slower. When they leave, those machines run so fast that the apples go on the floor. 

I am afraid to go back to Allan Brothers. I already got sick once. I don’t see them taking any necessary measures to protect us, and I don’t trust the safety measures they’ve taken so far. I hope that with us speaking up, I hope everybody understands where we’re coming from. It’s not just a money issue. It’s our health. It’s our family. It’s everybody’s well-being, not just ours.”

Felicitas

“I started working for Allan Bros. in 2006, so it’s been about 14 years, each one of them earning minimum pay. I earn $13.50 now. I’ve always earned the minimum wage the entire time I’ve worked here. 

I went on strike because there’s a lot of discrimination at Allan Bros. If we don’t do this, it’ll never stop inside. 

At Allan Brothers, they don’t want employees who have work restrictions. They told me that if you don’t have a paper that documents medical restrictions, they can put you to work where they want. And the instant you bring a note, they’ll send you home. If you’re sent home, they don’t pay you, and people have to pay their bills.

I injured my hip while at work back in May 2018, so I’ve been working injured for the past two years. They make me do all the work as though I’m in good health, even though I told my floor supervisor that I couldn’t complete this work. One time she almost made me cry. I told her that I couldn’t do packing, because it hurts so much to bend and turn. She just told me to “keep packing.” 

This treatment is humiliation. She didn’t care about my situation. This doesn’t seem like fair treatment to me. It’s painful for me to work the bag machines. You have to quickly grab five bags, and keep turning and turning, which causes me even more pain. I push through the pain with pills and everything, but I have to continue working like this because it’s a necessity. 

I don’t think that Allan Bros. has given supervisors training in how to treat other people. They need to give the floor supervisors classes in how to treat employees with respect. I think they should be taught how to ask, “Would you help me, please?” They don’t do that.

As workers, we all have rights and we should assert our rights, because if we don’t assert them ourselves, the employers aren’t going to respect them. We have to do it ourselves. 

For me, I’ll stay on strike until they give us a good response. I’ll stay here until they tell us that they’ll give us a wage increase, until they say that they won’t retaliate against us, that they won’t humiliate us — all of that. And until there’s better safety measures. Everything they now have inside the plant, in terms of safety, they have because of all of us who went on strike. There weren’t masks, they didn’t have any kind of protection. The workers inside are already benefiting from the things that we’ve done.”

Fair Work News – April 2019

APRIL 2019

Pay day for Jorge

Jorge was something of a jack of all trades at the popular restaurant in Shoreline where he’s worked for years. He worked a number of roles in the kitchen and helped out as a server in the dining room when needed. Jorge was not paid properly. His employer would pay him irregularly and only when asked. And he was never paid all that he was owed – it was always just enough to survive, enough to pay rent or buy groceries when needed. To make matters worse, the temporary owner kept incomplete and inaccurate records of his hours, so Jorge wasn’t getting any paystubs to document his hours or the full degree of wage theft he was experiencing.

Working with the Fair Work Legal Clinic, Jorge recreated over a year’s worth of his work calendar and calculated that he was owed more than $22,000. We worked with him to develop a demand letter that we sent to his employer. After Jorge received no response, we helped him file a wage theft claim with the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). Throughout the investigation, we supported Jorge in navigating the process with L&I and responding to their inquiries and requests for additional information. L&I recently sided with Jorge and sent their own letter to the temporary employer demanding he pay Jorge the $22,000 he’s owed.


Shady scheduling and discrimination on display at the mall

Belle, who works at a jewelry store at a mall in Seattle, first contacted Fair Work Center after experiencing frequent disruptions in her work schedule. In addition, she felt that her employer’s treatment towards her was drastically different than their treatment towards other employees. For example, while other employees were allowed to take breaks freely, Belle was required to get permission in advance. Belle never received any disciplinary actions from her employer and did not understand why she was subjected to this different treatment.

During Belle’s consultation, we discovered that Belle is the only elderly worker in that store; all other employees are in their 20s and 30s, including Belle’s supervisor.

As a salesperson part of her pay is through commission, but the nature of sales in the store are such that people often come in once, scope out what they want and come back later to make the purchase. Because Belle’s schedule was so unpredictable, she would not be able to let customers know when she might be in the store next. This meant that often another salesperson would get commission on the sale that she did the bulk of the work on.

We provided Belle information about our state laws regarding breaks and commission. We advised her that Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance requires large retail and food service employers with more than 500 employees globally to, among other things, post schedules two weeks in advance, or provide additional compensation to workers for last-minute changes to the schedule. If her employer meets its criteria, it would be in violation. In addition, we advised her to begin documenting her treatment at work in order for us to better assess her whether employer had violated age discrimination rules.

If we determine her employer is covered by Secure Scheduling, we will be able to take action that will not only fix Belle’s scheduling concerns but her coworkers’ too. We are also continuing to work with Belle to address concerns around age discrimination in a way that enables her to keep her job and, just as importantly, close more sales and receive more commissions.


When a hiring bonus isn’t a bonus for getting hired

Dudley worked as service technician for a small general contractor company. He mainly went to other small businesses to make repairs or perform other building services. The primary reason he took this job over others he was considering was because the company was offering a $1,500 hiring bonus for qualified candidates. In his interview, he asked about the hiring bonus and says he was told he would get it upon starting to work.

Unfortunately, he ended up being terminated two months into the job but never received his hiring bonus. He came to Fair Work Center looking for help getting bonus he was promised in his interview. We’re supporting Dudley in preparing to file a claim in small claims court where a judge will decide if an employer can be held accountable to a verbal agreement made in an interview.

Because the law around how hiring bonuses work is a little murky, there are likely many other workers in the situation of feeling like they are owed an advertised hiring bonus only to never receive it upon taking the job. We know it is common for employers to promise one thing to their workers and do another, so we will be fighting hard to help Dudley get his bonus.


Three strikes don’t make this dismissal right

Juanita worked at a nonprofit organization in Seattle from 2008 until very recently. Until early last year, she never had any sort of disciplinary or performance issues with management and was considered an integral part of the team. In fact, Juanita was someone a lot of people in the office came to for questions or support when they needed help.

Last year, her longtime supervisor was terminated and replaced by a new, younger supervisor. Juanita is older than most of her coworkers, and she noticed that her employer was moving towards hiring younger workers. She started to feel like she was being pushed out by her new supervisor, both in how she was being treated day to day and also in the trivial things she was being disciplined for by her supervisor. The first time she was written up it was because she spent six minutes in the copy room when her supervisor said it should only take two minutes. The second time she received a notice saying she was taking excessive bathroom breaks. She became suspicious of her supervisor’s actions and even noticed a few of her newer coworkers following her around the office and timing her breaks. Juanita believes her supervisor directed those coworkers to pay close attention to her activities. It was at that point she first came to Fair Work Center for legal consultation.

The final straw that led to her termination came one day when the office was closing and a client showed up in a state of emergency seeking services. Because she was committed to providing services to people in need, she stayed an extra hour to counsel the client. Company policy is that workers must get advance approval for overtime hours, so, after two trivial strikes already against her, she was written up again for her third strike for taking an unapproved overtime hour and terminated. She feels it was retaliation by her supervisor, who was just waiting to find a reason to let her go.

Juanita first tried going through the internal HR complaint processes twice, but HR sided with management both times. So when she was officially terminated she said she was going back to Fair Work Center to seek legal counsel. At that point, her employer offered her a severance package. We supported Juanita in preparing for the severance negotiation with HR and management, which resulted in her getting the payout she was looking for.


A balancing act: standing up for herself & keeping her job

Gabriela is a Mexican immigrant who works at a Mexican restaurant. She contacted Fair Work Center after a cook, who she did not get along with, put an extremely hot pepper in her salad without her knowing. She raised this issue with her supervisor but no action was taken; the cook was not warned, disciplined, or otherwise put on notice of his behavior. So she took it up to a higher level of management and asked for their help. Gabriela was then written up by her immediate supervisor for going over his head to management, even though her immediate supervisor ignored her complaints.

Gabriela had been working at that restaurant for more than 10 years. And in that time, Gabriela’s schedule remained relatively consistent. Yet as soon as she started to raise concerns over her coworker’s aggression towards her, her schedule changed drastically. Not only were her work hours reduced, but she was scheduled to work “clopening” shifts, where she was required to close one day and open the next. She feared she would soon lose her job entirely.

She was referred to Fair Work Center by one of our community partners, and we provided Gabriela about her workplace rights and advised Gabriela about retaliation. We also discussed ways for her to effectively address her concerns with her employer. Gabriela left the clinic feeling empowered to talk to her employer to address the retaliation and to request that her schedule return to what it previously was. After speaking with her employer, she got her old schedule back. In addition, the problematic cook was transferred to work at another location. Gabriela felt relieved to no longer be working with that cook but still had concerns about her personal safety, given the cook’s strong dislike of her. We provided her with information and resources on how to file for a protection order.


Putting tips back on top

Working WA, our sibling organization, has been organizing gig workers (i.e., people who work for app-based companies like Postmates, Instacart, and Doordash) for the past couple of years. Last fall, Mia, a worker on the grocery delivery app Instacart and leader on Working WA’s gig economy campaign, raised the alarm about major pay cuts on Instacart. She and her coworkers were getting paid 30-40% less for each job, the company was using a black-box algorithm to set pay. And what’s more, they were taking customers’ tips instead of passing them on to workers.

When a customer tips, it is generally understood as extra money for the service provided by the worker. But Instacart was just paying the worker less and pocketing the tip. Here’s how it worked. An Instacart shopper might agreed to take a job that promised $10. The customer who made the order agreed to a $5 tip for the work. But instead of that worker getting $15, Instacart used the tip to subsidize the amount they paid the worker for the job.

Working WA started a petition demanding better pay, no more tip theft, and a more transparent pay system for Instacart’s workers. In a few short weeks it was signed by more than 3,500 gig workers and customers outraged by Instacart’s shady pay practices. Workers and customers were standing up and speaking out, and the media took notice. Bloomberg News did a piece on the petition, which generated even greater attention to the petition and generated even more news stories and social media outrage among gig workers and customers alike.

The tremendous weight of public outrage in combination with the power of gig worker’s organizing forced Instacart to put tips back on top of pay. But the change Instacart made wasn’t enough – they’re still paying workers too little and their pay stubs are still a mystery. And these problems aren’t limited to Instacart workers. Gig workers on all apps are facing low pay and lack of transparency. So they are continuing to organize and a national campaign called  #PayUp to demand $15 plus expenses for each hour they work, tips on top, and pay transparency.


Are your rights at work being violated? For a free consultation, contact us today online or by phone: 1-844-485-1195.