Fair Work News — April 2024



Bosses back down when workers have access to legal resources:

Vineyard workers in Sunnyside, WA were injured and needed to take time off to recover, only to find their entire crew laid off shortly after. Our clients sought, and were granted, PFML for the injury, but the employer appealed, claiming they had walked off the job.  If the employer had been successful, our clients would have lost the right to their paid leave, and might have had to pay back any amounts they already received. After additional documentation and a notice of appearance entered by our legal team, the employer backed down. 


No small thing:

A nanny client recently won her small claims trial and was paid by her ex-employer! This means she won’t have to fight an appeal or figure out how to collect her money. And because empowered workers empower others, she hopes to inspire other nannies to exercise their rights, and has been supporting another Nanny Collective member to prepare for her trial.

 

Skewering some stolen wages:

Two food truck workers from MoMo’s Kebab in Seattle came to us when their bosses were stealing tips and underpaying them. After our legal team backed them up in some pitched negotiations, the workers won back wages. Checks in hands and hopefully lessons learned by some food truck bosses.  

 

Are your rights at work being violated?

If you’re interested in a training, one on one information session, or a free consultation with our lawyers, visit our office in Seattle or Yakima, email help@fairworkcenter.org, or fill out this form.

University of Washington Community Survey: Understanding the Initial Impact of Seattle’s PayUp Ordinance

Researchers with UW’s Information School and the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies are studying the response to the PayUp Ordinance. 

PayUp and where we’re at now:

In 2022, the City Council passed the App-Based Worker Minimum Payment Ordinance (also called the “PayUp” Ordinance) requiring the following:

  • Minimum payment for time worker and miles traveled for each service
    • Minimum-per-minute amount of $0.44 and minimum per-mile amount of $0.74
    • Minimum per-offer amount of $5
  • Transparency: upfront disclosures of offer information and payment
  • Flexibility: Right to access app-based platform without limitations (excluding health and safety), no penalties for limiting availability or refusing orders, and the right to cancel an order with cause.  

These changes went into effect on January 13th, 2024. App-based corporations have used this as an opportunity to price-gouge customers both in and out of Seattle with outrageous retaliatory fees, and is lobbying the city council to repeal the law. 

The University of Washington is asking app-based workers, consumers, and business owners and operators to take our survey:

The Assurecare Workers’ Story

Ending Racist And Sexist Exclusion Of Caregivers From Critical Labor Standards In Washington

We were recently featured as guest contributors on Impact Fund’s blog to talk about our recent case with Assurecare workers.

On March 24, 2023, the Fair Work Center helped six workers file a lawsuit against Assurecare for failure to pay their full wages for all hours worked, missed rest breaks and meal periods, and significant overtime premiums.

Read more about the case and about our fight to end the racist and sexist exclusion of caregivers from critical labor standards in Washington.

 

 

Seattle App-Based Worker Minimum Payment Ordinance In Effect

Subminimum wages for Seattle’s gig workers are OVER.

As of January 13, 2024, the PayUp App-Based Worker Minimum Payment Ordinance finally goes into effect – the law that thousands of gig workers fought for that guarantees a minimum pay floor and better flexibility and transparency standards. 

Fed up workers spoke up, fought back, and won these rights.

Now, we need to educate other workers about our new rights and band together to ensure we can enforce our rights. Here are some FAQs about the new law that gig workers need to know.

 

Want to learn more about the law and make sure it’s working for you? Below are some great ways to learn about the new law and to make sure it has teeth:

  • Read the details of the law at the Office of Labor Standards.
  • Come to our PayUp Ordinance Know Your Rights meeting on February 15 to get your questions answered and meet the workers who won the #PayUp campaign. We’ll dive into the details of the law and you’ll also have the chance to talk one-on-one with our legal team about your pay.
  • Reach out to our team anytime at help@fairworkcenter.org

What can you do to keep up the momentum?

  • TAKE. SCREENSHOTS. We have reason to believe the apps won’t follow the law. They’ve tried to weasel out of paying workers’ hazard pay and Paid Sick & Safe Time before. The key to finding out if they’re breaking this law too? If you are a worker or a customer on apps like GrubHub, Instacart, and Amazon Flex, take lots of screenshots. The best way to hold the apps accountable is to keep careful records of what they do or don’t tell you – and then bring that to us at a meeting if you want help finding out whether we’ve got a case on our hands.
  • Contribute to our work so we have the resources we need to reach out to more workers, and go to bat for our rights.

 

Request for Information: Nonprofit Accounting Services Providers

Fair Work Center (a 501c3 nonprofit organization) & Working Washington (a 501c4 nonprofit organization) — two related organizations that share an Executive Director, staff, and other resources — are issuing a request for information to help us in exploring a new vendor for providing our nonprofit organizations with accounting services. (Download the PDF here:Accounting services RFI)

We share operations across both organizations so we require vendors familiar with c3 and c4 compliance guidelines as they relate to accounting and bookkeeping. We operate on an accrual basis. 

While we handle day to day accounts payables and receivables, we are looking for support with the following services:

  • Reconcile bank, credit card, and other financial accounts on a monthly basis
  • Maintain chart of accounts and class list
  • Make appropriate accrual and deferral entries
  • Provide financial reports to management, as needed
  • Assist Operations staff with general ledger entries
  • Complete year-end closing entries
  • Prepare and file yearly 1099s and W2s
  • Prepare and file yearly 990s
  • Assist in the development of Financial Policies and Procedures
  • Assist in responding to annual audit(s) 
  • Assist Operations staff with additional Quickbooks support, as needed 
  • Other related accounting items, as needed

Vendors who are interested in working with us should respond to the survey questions (follow this link) or email their responses to josh@fairworkcenter.org.  

  • Your name
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Company name
  • Company EIN
  • Does your business qualify as a Women & Minority Owned Business Enterprise? 
  • What are your hourly rates? 
  • Do you have experience working with 501c3 and 501c4  nonprofit organizations? 
  • What else should we know about your and your company?

La historia de Efrain: “Fue una falta de respeto”


Efraín trabajaba como cocinero en un bar deportivo en Seattle. Tuvo que trabajar horas extras, no pudo tomar descansos, y lo pagaron por 40 horas cada semana—sin importar cuántas horas adicionales él trabajara. Y cuando intentó a tomar tiempo pagado de enfermedad, su patrón lo despidió. 

Nos contactó y lo representamos en su caso contra su empleador. Ahora, Efraín está recibiendo $72,000 en un acuerdo—más que un año de pago. 

Lee la historia de Efrain, en sus propias palabras:

“Después de que me contrataron, fui trabajando duro por seis meses, ganando el salario mínimo que me ofrecieron. Al seis meses, el manager me mandó a hablar. Traje un compañero, el que hablaba más inglés, porque el manager solamente hablaba inglés, y el que me traducía la conversación. El manager me comentó que yo andaba bien, y me ofreció más responsabilidades. Y entonces este ya me ofreció mil dólares por trabajar de lunes a domingo – pues, tenía que estar los 7 días ahí. 

A partir de eso, trabajaba normalmente como 55 horas por semana, y a veces llegábamos hasta las 60 horas—todo por 1000 dólares por semana. No me pagaron nada extra por todas las horas extras. Entonces me debieron mucho dinero, ¿no? Pero claro que necesitaba el trabajo. 

Fue toda una locura trabajar 7 días o 6 días a la semana. Salía para la casa a la una y media de la mañana. Luego dos, dos y media. No pude descansar en el trabajo ni tomar días de descanso. Entre ellos estaría durmiendo 4 or 5 horas. 

Me sentí mal porque allí en realidad—y bueno ya antes era mucho trabajo—ahora fue aún más trabajo. A este señor no le interesaba el esfuerzo que nos hizo y que no está pagando mucho. Además, el dueño hacía una fiesta cada año para los empleados—pero a nosotros, los de la cocina, nunca nos invitaban. Todo eso, el pago y la exclusión, fue una falta de respeto. 

Un día, le dije al manager muy temprano que no dormía bien, y que tengo que ir al dentista porque necesito ayuda con un dolor en los dientes. Nunca faltaba trabajo, pero hoy no pude trabajar. Y me dice usted puede ir al dentista, muy suave, que quiere irse. Ya después, unas dos horas después, me llamó a decirme que estaba despedido.

Me quedé enojado y frustrado, me quedé en cómo todo el trabajo que hice yo ahí como que no les importó. Todavía es muy, muy frustrante. 

Hace como cinco años yo supe de Fair Work Center, porque yo me inscribí a una escuela de inglés, donde recuerdo que la maestra nos informó sobre lo que es Fair Work Center. Entonces me puse en contacto con los abogados, y empezaron a apoyarme con mi caso. 

Nada más quiero que los otros trabajadores sepan los derechos que tenemos nosotros. A veces como personas sin papeles, nosotros no sabemos ni a dónde acudir o con quién preguntarles cuando no están respetando nuestros derechos. En situaciones anteriores, yo no dije nada, yo me quedé callado por temor de represalias y todo eso—yo nunca les dije que tengo una experiencia, me pasó, podemos demandar, podemos hacer esto, no? 

Pero con este caso, yo siempre sabía que tengo el caso y necesito hacer valer mis derechos. Y lo hicimos.”

¿No están respetando tus derechos? ¿Necesitas ayuda?

Llámanos al 844-485-1195, envíanos un correo en help@fairworkcenter.org, o llena este formulario.

What are ag workers saying about what real celebration and support would look like?

Agricultural workers in the Yakima Valley joined Fair Work Center on the radio last month as part of a program celebrating National Ag Workers’ Week. Workers shared the challenges they’re facing, how they’re organizing to assert and expand their rights, and what it would mean to truly feel that their work is valued and celebrated.

Many workers agreed that simply declaring a week in March to be Ag Worker Celebration Week was not enough to truly celebrate their work and support their communities. Instead, ag workers want action—and one thing we can do is ensure all ag workers get overtime pay when they work overtime hours by passing SB 5172. (UPDATE: this bill has passed the legislature and is on the Governor’s desk waiting to be signed into law!)

>>>Click here to tell your state representative to support ag workers and pass SB 5172 without amendments when it comes to the House floor for a vote.

What else are ag workers saying about what real celebration and support would look like?


“To me, celebrating farmworkers would mean meeting our community’s needs. I’m not sure what celebrating us looks like if it doesn’t also mean real enforcement of our rights on the job.”

“The state government doesn’t have enough inspectors to keep watch on every farmer and every company. Farmers know that and so they do what they want. That’s why as workers, we have to take care of one another and come together to support one another.”

“We always see abuses against workers—where I work, sometimes our supervisors don’t want to give us our sick hours. And if you try to use your right to paid sick leave, they get mad and take it out on you. Things are still really unjust in our industry—which is why we’ve got to organize and enforce our rights.”

“To actually celebrate us, that would mean passing immigration reform for workers. Many of us are undocumented—even though we have many years working in agriculture. We’re essential workers…and it’s time for the government to support us with immigration reform so that we can work freely.”

“Celebrating us means companies treating us with the respect we deserve as workers.”


Workers shared personal stories about the labor rights violations they face on a daily basis: assault and harassment by management, physical and emotional stress, lack of adequate safety equipment, wage theft, lack of legally-required breaks, and working overtime hours without getting paid overtime. You can click here to listen to the full Spanish-language radio program.

UPDATE: SB 5171 has passed the Legislature and was delivered to the Governor on April 26! Governor Inslee is expected to sign the bill into law, ensuring that all agricultural workers have the right to earn overtime pay when they work overtime hours and eliminating this longstanding racist exclusion in our labor laws.

¿Qué dicen los trabajadores agrícolas sobre cómo podemos celebrar su trabajo de verdad?

La semana pasada, algunos trabajadores agrícolas del Valle de Yakima participaron en un programa de radio junto con Fair Work Center para celebrar la Semana Nacional de Trabajadores Campesinos. Compartieron historias de los retos que enfrentan en el trabajo, cómo están organizando para exigir y expandir sus derechos, y que sería una manera para que se sintieran de verdad que su trabajo fuera valorado y celebrado por nuestra sociedad. 

Muchos trabajadores dijeron que una sola semana en marzo para celebrarlos no es suficiente para realmente honrar su trabajo y aportar a sus comunidades. En vez de una semana de celebración, los trabajadores pidieron que tomamos acción para proteger sus derechos—y algo que podemos hacer ahora es aprobar a SB 5172 y asegurar que todos los trabajadores agrícolas reciban un pago extra cuando trabajan horas extras. 

>>>Haga clic aquí para contactar a sus representantes estatales y pedir que aprueben SB 5172 sin enmiendas cuando haya un voto en la Cámara de Representantes.

¿Qué más dicen los trabajadores agrícolas sobre lo que sería una celebración verdadera de su trabajo?

“Que festejaremos de verdad, es de si habrá esta reforma migratoria para trabajadores. La mayoría no tienen documentos—y tienen años trabajando en la agricultura. Somos trabajadores esenciales…que el gobierno nos apoye con esta reforma migratoria para que podamos trabajar libremente 

El gobierno estatal no tiene los oficiales suficientes para estar vigilando cada ranchero, cada compañía. Así que es los rancheros si saben esto…y ellos hacen lo que los da la ganas, entonces los trabajadores tenemos que ser los responsables para cuidarse nosotros mismos. 

“Siempre vemos abusos contra los trabajadores, a veces los mayordomos no quieren darnos las horas de enfermedad. Y si una vez reclames tus horas de enfermedad, se enojan. Es muy injusto todavía. Se hay que hacer valer los derechos.” 

“Para mi, celebrarnos sería las formas de apoyar a los campesinos con lo que nos hace falta…De verdad no se de que se trata de celebrar, sino más bien exigirnos los derechos.”

Celebrarnos significa que las compañías nos den el respeto que merecemos como trabajadores.”

Los trabajadores también compartieron historias de los varios retos que enfrentan en el trabajo agrícola: el acoso, el estrés, la falta de equipo de protección, el robo de salario, los patrones quitando los breaks, y trabajo fuera de tiempo de pago. Haga clic aquí para escuchar al programa de radio archivado.

Cómo podemos tomar acción

Ahora en el estado de WA, la legislatura estatal tiene una oportunidad de eliminar una exclusión racista en nuestras leyes y asegurar que todos los trabajadores agrícolas reciben un pago extra cuando trabajan horas extras. 

SB 5172 eliminará la exclusión de los trabajadores campesinos de las protecciones de horas extras. Esta propuesta ya se aprobó el Senado Estatal entero, e igual se aprobaron dos comités en la Cámara de Representantes Estatal. Pronto, habrá un voto en la Cámara de Representantes entera, así que estamos a punto de convertir esta propuesta en ley!

Pero aliados del comercio agrícola van a intentar pedir enmiendas al último momento para restringir la fuerza de la propuesta y ablandar los derechos de algunos trabajadores agrícolas. Entonces hay que levantar nuestras voces y exigir nuestros derechos! Añade tu voz para asegurar que los Representantes nos escuchan y votan para aprobar SB 5172 sin enmiendas. 

CONTACTE TUS REPRESENTANTES:

DILES QUE ASEGUREN EL PAGO DE OVERTIME 

PARA TODOS LOS TRABAJADORES AGRÍCOLAS

In solidarity with the movement for Black lives

Dear Working Washington / Fair Work Center community:

Our organization stands in solidarity with the movement for Black lives and the powerful protests in Seattle, across Washington, and all across this 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 condemn Seattle’s dangerous response to these ongoing protests, including the Seattle Police Department’s use of violent crowd control tactics to silence the voices of Black organizers and allies. Police have used tear gas, flash-bangs, pepper spray, and rubber bullets on protestors without provocation. We call on Mayor Durkan to halt police escalation and to stop imposing curfews that discourage protesting and result in violence and mass arrests. We also call on all Washington leaders to stop using these tactics in communities throughout the state.

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.

Therefore, in the coming weeks we will amplify and support Black-led organizations that hold the police accountable, fight against racist violence, and lift up communities. We also commit to being a resource for Black workers and organizations. Black people are systemically denied access to jobs, disproportionately work in industries excluded from basic labor standards, and are experiencing disproportionate levels of unemployment in the current economic crisis.

And we join the call to defund police. In this moment and  this economic crisis, we see a moral imperative to invest more in our communities and spend less on policing and violence.

One concrete, immediate way to show your support: consider making a contribution to the Northwest Community Bail Fund or the Black Lives Matter Seattle Bail Fund.

 

In Solidarity,

Rachel Lauter, Executive Director
Working Washington / Fair Work Center

 

This statement was originally published June 3, 2020 on the Working Washington website.

Landmark ruling affirms protections for LGBTQ workers nationwide

It’s now official: across the country, it is illegal for your employer to fire you or otherwise discriminate against you based on your sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s because of a ruling last month by the US Supreme Court, a landmark civil rights victory that will protect millions of workers across the United States from unlawful discrimination. 

With federal anti-discrimination laws in the news, it’s a good time to get familiar with Washington State’s anti-discrimination laws. Thankfully, LGBTQ workers in our state have been protected from discrimination at work since Washington’s own landmark legislation in 2006. And, in fact, our state law goes further than federal law in protecting LBGTQ rights in other areas of life, too. 

LGBTQ workers are protected from employment discrimination. Your employer cannot discriminate against you based on your sexual orientation or gender identity. This covers all aspects of your employment, such as in applying and interviewing, hiring and firing, discipline, promotion, layoffs, and work environment.

State law also protects your right to stand up for your rights on the job. That means your boss can’t retaliate against you when you raise concerns about discrimination you’re experiencing at work. 

In addition to protections from employment discrimination, LGBTQ people in Washington also have the right to be free from discrimination in other key aspects of life:

  • Housing: Landlords can’t refuse to rent to you or lie to you about the availability of a rental property because of your gender identity or sexual orientation. 
  • Public accommodation: You can’t be refused entry, participation, or service in places that provide goods and services to the public – that means places like restaurants, theaters, hotels, hospitals, libraries, gas stations, retail stores, and more. 
  • Credit and Insurance: You can’t be refused credit or insurance services because of your LGBTQ identity.

If you are being discriminated against because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, we encourage you to reach out to Q Law or the Lavender Rights Project. Our legal clinic would normally be a resource as well for employment-based discrimination you may be experiencing, but we are currently closed to new cases as we manage a large volume of other cases.