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There are almost 100,000 undocumented immigrants on Long Island. Most have fled terrible violence and poverty in their homelands to start life anew in America. They are the classic immigrant story that has made America great. We don’t always know their legal status, but we see these immigrants every day in the work they do – work native-born Americans refuse to do such as washing cars or mowing lawns or picking crops in the field or cleaning homes and offices or caring for elderly Long Islanders. They are undocumented because, despite their many contributions to our economy, the federal government has failed for almost twenty years to enact Comprehensive Immigration Reform that would allow these needed workers to enter this country legally.
Advocate for The NYS Excluded Workers’ Fund
There is a solution. New York State Senator Jessica Ramos and Assembly member Carmen De La Rosa have introduced legislation (S8277/A10414) to establish a billionaire tax on financial investment gains that would raise $5 billion to create an Excluded Workers’ Fund – a supplement to New York State’s Unemployment Insurance – that would provide undocumented workers affected by COVID with up to $750 a week in unemployment benefits. In so doing, the fund would pump about $370 million into the Long Island economy each month as unemployed or underemployed undocumented immigrants spend the money they did not have before the fund was created.
Join us in a Car Caravan to Support the Excluded Workers’ Fund on Wednesday August 19th, assembling at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church parking lot at 9:00 AM , 1434 Straight Path, Wyandanch for prompt departure at 10:00 AM for Brentwood. Please wear masks and bring signs and decorations for your car such as “Justice for the Excluded Immigrants” or “Immigrant Workers: Essential but Excluded” or a message of your own creation. The caravan is co-sponsored by Suffolk County Legislator Sam Gonzalez who spoke passionately in support of this fund at our July 30th commemoration of excluded workers. You can view his speech here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ErVWvhvB6h6vVjSL6 . Brentwood and Central Islip, two heavily Latinx communities in Leg. Gonzalez’s district, have among the highest COVID infection rates on Long Island, exceeding 6500 cases, many of them excluded, undocumented immigrants. The caravan will conclude in Leg. Gonzalez’s legislative district with statements of support for the Excluded Workers’ Bill from elected officials, faith and community leaders.
On Monday, December 16th, a group of Lidl Best Market workers and Long Island Jobs with Justice released a report detailing the findings of a September 24th Workers’ Rights Board Hearing, where workers testified before a panel of community, faith and political leaders about the conditions of their workplace and their concern for the future of their jobs.
The following recommendations have been issued for Lidl’s immediate attention and response:
1. Treat all workers with dignity and respect by:
Paying all workers a living wage and providing benefits that are equal to local supermarket standards, including equivalent Sunday and holiday premium pay.
Providing stable and predictable schedules.
Offering affordable healthcare.
2. Be truthful and transparent with workers by:
Providing greater transparency to workers about the future of their jobs and opportunities for promotion and growth in the company.
Providing greater transparency to all workers about opportunities available for store transfers, promotion and growth in the company.
3. Offer a safe workplace for all workers by providing ongoing maintenance, repair and trainings
Watch live feed from the report release event
For nearly three years, workers at Best Market stores have been coming together to voice their concerns and improve conditions in their workplace. In November 2018, workers learned that Best Market sold their stores to a multinational corporation from Germany named Lidl. After the prior two years of fighting Best Market for better wages, stable hours and affordable benefits, workers were hopeful that their new employer Lidl, the fourth largest retailer in the industry, would do better. One year since Lidl’s acquisition, workers report little to no improvement.
Lidl is in the process of converting and re-bannering these Best Market stores to the predominant Lidl store operating model, which is no-frills shopping experience that presumably will require less staffing.
Despite Lidl telling workers that they will have an opportunity to keep their jobs, Lidl has not been clear about what this opportunity will look like long-term in terms of hours and work responsibilities. Lidl just opened its first re-bannered store of December 11th, 2019.