No Safe Bet: Immigrant Residents in Queens Say a Casino Will Harm Their Communities

Mets owner Steven Cohen really wants to build a casino in Queens. To make his dream a reality, he has launched a multi-million dollar campaign to sway Queens elected officials, the city, and the state into letting him build the casino on a 50-acre city-owned parking lot next to Citi Field which is legally registered as public parkland. But a growing coalition of immigrant-led community, civic and environmental groups have vowed to stop the plan. As of yet, there is no exact time frame for when

Why Immigrant Doctors Threatened to Strike at Two Hospitals in Queens

During the first wave of Covid-19, Queens hospitals were on the frontlines of the pandemic. Although they were celebrated as essential workers, some first-year physician residents were only making between $15 and $17 an hour while they routinely worked 80-hour weeks. Nearly three years later, about 300 resident physicians and fellows at Jamaica and Flushing Hospitals have won a new contract after threatening to walk off the job if their demands for better wages and improved working conditions w

Unions Fight to Include Wage Theft in U-Visa Program

Advocates celebrated on Feb. 13 when the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced they would be issuing U-Visa certifications in support of undocumented workers who experienced workplace abuses. But soon, they learned that a key element was missing: wage theft, an issue that affects tens of thousands of workers in New York State per year, would not qualify. “We most certainly wish that the DOL would consider wage theft as a qualifying crime for U- and T-Visa certifications,”

Immigrant Workers Lead Strike Against Billionaire Catsimatidis

André Soleyn, 55, and two dozen of his fellow United Metro Energy Corp. workers never wanted to go on strike in the first place. After the workers voted to join Teamsters Local 553 in December 2018, the company dragged its feet in negotiating a fair contract for three years. Feeling like they were left with no choice, the workers decided to take collective action. “It was a last resort,” Soleyn said. Tuesday, April 18, marks the two-year anniversary of the strike. Yet, Soleyn and the rest of t

Immigrant Workers File National Complaints Against Employer's Intimidation Tactics

About 40 immigrant indigenous workers at the non-union, Brooklyn-based demolition company Best Super Cleaning, have begun their monthly picket lines outside the company’s worksites again, this time demanding an end to the retaliation and intimidation from their employer. Last month the workers filed two charges with the National Labor Relations Board, one on March 13 and the other on March 27, charging the company with surveilling its workers’ organizing activity and threatening workers who cho

Nursing Home 'Hell' is Hotbed of Drug Smuggling, Violence, Neglect and Theft

Tomika Lee was sitting at her security guard post in the lobby of the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center, when a nurse alerted her that two elderly men were fighting. “It was getting really heated,” she said. One of the men was taking his wheelchair apart, piece by piece, and throwing it at the other resident. They were fighting over cigarettes, Lee, who was 23-years-old at the time, learned. The facility’s rules dictate that security guards can’t physically restrain residents, they hav

Despite Reforms, Sex Workers in New York Still Live in Fear of Arrest

Editor’s note: While Documented uses sex workers to refer to individuals and sex work as a trade, prostitution is still used as a legal term in New York, so we use it in that context exclusively. Several times a night, police officers patrol Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, on foot, shining their glaring flashlights at women standing outside the entrances of massage parlors. The women are sex workers, trying to draw customers into massage parlors. As the officers pass, the women flee into t

New OSHA Rules Empower Immigrant Workers

Undocumented workers across the country who have been afraid to speak up about labor rights violations due to their immigration status now have new leverage to take action against their bosses. On Feb. 13, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced for the first time that the agency will have the authority to issue visa certifications to workers who have had their wages stolen, safety laws violated, as well as other workplace abuses, regardless of their immigration

Troubled ASA College Closed But Left Students Out In the Cold

Like many of his fellow international students, Edwin Rodriguez, 30, came to New York from Colombia to attend college with nothing but ambitious dreams for his future. But after nearly two and a half years studying at the long-troubled for-profit ASA College, which abruptly shut its doors last week, he says he’s been left with thousands of dollars in debt, no degree, and ASA holding his student transcripts ransom. “I feel I lost two years of my life,” said Rodriguez, who enrolled with ASA Colle

Uber and Lyft Drivers Fight Back Against Accounts Being Randomly Deactivated

Karim was spending time in Vermont during the July Fourth weekend of 2021 when he received an email from Uber. His account as an Uber driver was being permanently deactivated for violating the company’s community guidelines, the email said, but it did not give him any specific reason. “Overnight I come back from vacation broke and next thing I’m deactivated,” he said. Karim, who is an immigrant from Bangladesh, had been driving since 2017 when his account was cancelled. “It was like a slap in t

LaGuardia Airport Workers Claim Anti-Union Retaliation

LaGuardia Airport’s $8 billion facelift may be nearing completion, but workers there say their labor issues have only worsened. On Thursday afternoon, dozens of LaGuardia Airport workers employed by the major airline contractor Swissport USA, many of whom are immigrants, rallied outside the airport’s Marine Air Terminal to announce filing unfair practice labor charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In addition to the NLRB charges for retaliation against union activists, 32BJ S

City Council Member Funnels Taxpayer Dollars to Anti-Abortion Clinic

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s controversial decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last June, City Council member Vickie Paladino has not only stood out in her anti-choice stance but in her continued financial support for anti-abortion groups. Paladino, who represents Queens and was endorsed by the anti-abortion group Personhood NY when she ran for the New York State Senate in 2018, awarded $10,000 in discretionary funds to Bridge to Life, a Queens-based anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center, fo

Mayor Eric Adams Budget Cuts Put Wage Theft Recovery Program In Jeopardy

Over the past five years, the mayor-funded Low-Wage Worker Support Initiative has allocated about $2 million annually to nonprofits to provide critical legal help for low-wage, immigrant workers in wage theft cases. Last year alone the initiative recovered more than $3 million in stolen wages for immigrant workers. However, that program will soon be on the chopping block as it was left out of Mayor Eric Adams’ proposed $102.7 billion budget. If cut, immigrant workers victimized by wage theft fe

Layoffs at Twitter May Violate City Law, Janitor Union Says

Lucy Calderon, 36, had to cancel Christmas dinner this past year because of sudden layoffs at the Twitter Manhattan office just a week before the holidays. Without her $31-an-hour cleaning job, she couldn’t afford to splurge on her annual family feast. Instead, she spent Christmas sleeping in bed. “It was horrible because my whole family comes to my house,” she said as she struggled to hold back swelling tears. “I’m the one that cooks. I’m my mother’s legacy. I was so depressed and I was going

Twin Parks Fire Victims Claim That Donations Are Still Owed, a Year Later

A year has passed since Nikki Campbell, 46, lost her apartment and everything she owned in the 9-alarm Twin Parks fire that left 17 of her neighbors dead. Since that fatal day, the single mother of six teenagers has struggled to put the pieces of her life back together. “We are just trying to rebuild anyway we can,” she said. “We have been suffering for months.” In the weeks immediately after the fire, millions of dollars were raised to help the now-homeless families, many of whom are immigran

Immigrant Drivers Fined by New York TLC Police in Sting Operations

It was an unusually mild August day in 2021, when immigrant Jamaican-American Stanford Miller, 49, who was dropping off relatives at JFK Airport, was approached by an elderly woman looking for a ride. Miller wasn’t a cab driver, but a construction worker on his way to his job. “I felt compassion for her and agreed to drive her since I was heading back there anyway,” he said. The woman was an undercover New York TLC (Taxi & Limousine Commission) officer. Soon after Miller picked up the woman, h

Ahead of the Holiday Travel Season, Immigrant Airport Workers Are in Crisis

Last Thursday, nearly 100 airport workers gathered outside the historic Marina Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport to demand better working conditions from their employer Swissport USA and for Congress to pass the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act. The bill seeks to create a national standard that will ensure airport service workers earn living wages and benefits like paid time off and healthcare. Immigrant workers employed by Swissport USA, a Swiss-owned international aviation services contractor

A Year Later, New York’s First Farm Workers Union Struggles to Secure Its First Contract

Farm workers on Long Island struggled for three years to form New York’s first farm workers union at Pindar Vineyards. After establishing their union in 2021, to much fanfare, they have embarked on yet another struggle: winning a fair contract. More than a year has gone by and Pindar Vineyard’s owners have refused to negotiate on the first labor contract that would guarantee the farm workers increased wages, paid sick leave, overtime pay, and paid holidays. Since first arriving in the U.S. fro

After Construction Worker Falls to His Death, Advocates Pressure Hochul

On Monday, November 28, an unidentified construction worker fell 162 feet to his death while working at a non-union construction site in the Upper West Side. Fellow construction workers huddled below the scaffolding the following night to mourn his death. A makeshift vigil was left at the site consisting of flowers and candles to honor his memory. Across the city, construction worker vigils are common. His death was the third in November. On November 1, 27-year-old immigrant worker Raúl Tenele

Spectrum Workers Sue Their Former Union

Spectrum Workers are suing their union, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 3, for failing to fairly represent them. The lawsuit alleges that Local 3 failed to notify workers that it had reached a settlement with Charter Communications, Spectrum’s parent company, nor did it inform workers of the nature of the settlement with Charter as well as failed to seek consent from the workers. Nearly 1,800 workers, many of whom are Black and Latino immigrants, went on strike,
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