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Workers not 'lawbreakers' | Greater Southeastern Massachusetts Labor Council

"I was a bit concerned yesterday after reading a Sunday article by Steve Urbon on the Fair Labor Standards Act ("Work week law changed Americans' lives," Page A2, Oct. 30) by what was obviously a misunderstanding of comments I made during a phone interview.

What I tried to express in that interview was that it is the employers who are the lawbreakers, employers who illegally refuse to pay overtime and who often apply illegal tactics to thwart the efforts of workers to stand up for their rights. As I mentioned, the penalty for such crimes is rarely a deterrent.

Many unions, mine included, continue to fight hard for the rights of immigrant workers, regardless of their classification as either documented or undocumented. As opposed to being ignorant of the law, as too often portrayed, they are regularly more vulnerable to the illegal actions of their bosses.

Finally, I did not ( or did not intend to) suggest that "the practice of hiring immigrants ... opened the door to flagrant disregard of the labor laws." That door was flung open some time ago by corporate greed aided by its political allies (remember PATCO, for instance). It remains opened today and can be closed only by a strengthened labor movement, a mobilization of workers and their allies. Such a mobilization is the only way to bring about workplace and political changes (including a true amnesty for undocumented immigrants and labor law reform) that will protect all workers."
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