Batres Sentencing

Labor Trafficking Conviction & Sentencing

January 15, 2020

This morning, Ricardo Batres was sentenced to 270 days in the workhouse and five years of probation, convicted of labor trafficking and insurance fraud while working on projects of large developers in the Twin Cities metro area, like Lennar Homes. This is the first case of labor trafficking to be tried in Hennepin County, and the first case to be brought to light in construction in Minnesota.

This is a good first step towards change, bringing to public light the rampant and systemic abuses that are happening in non-union construction work. Following the conviction, the Worker-driven Social Responsibility Network published a report highlighting the systemic abuses happening in non-union construction work in the Twin Cities, and pointing to a long-term solution that would give workers in the industry a voice through Building Dignity and Respect Standards Council.

CTUL wrote a Community Impact Statement regarding the impacts of Batres’ actions on the broader community, stating:

“So what is the real impact of Batres’ actions in this case? Large developers and finance behind those developers have learned that they can put downward pressure on contractors on their projects to build the projects as quickly and cheaply as possible…Contractors like Batres then step into this space and firmly establish a culture of fear within the workforce by threatening workers and retaliating against workers who stand up for their rights. While Batres is not the only contractor behaving this way in the industry, he was a trailblazer in finding creative ways to cut costs on the backs of workers.”

 Click here to read CTUL’s entire Community Impact Statement

Click here for a copy of the report: “Building Dignity and Respect”

Press Coverage (Click here for a copy of CTUL’s press release)

Press Release: Ricardo Batres Sentencing

**JANUARY 15, 2020 – PRESS RELEASE**

Contact: Isa Escalona, isa@ctul.net, 708-557-1119

 

Judge Issues Sentencing in First Labor Trafficking Trial in Hennepin County 

Ricardo Batres sentenced to 270 days in the Workhouse and 5 years probation for labor trafficking and insurance fraud while working on projects of large developers like Lennar Homes 

This morning a judge issued sentencing in the first labor trafficking case to be tried in Hennepin County. Late last year, on November 18, 2019, State of Minnesota vs. Ricardo Ernesto Batres began and resulted in a plea bargain by the defense. Batres pled guilty to labor trafficking and insurance fraud, both felonies. This is the first ever labor trafficking conviction in Hennepin County history. Sentencing includes 270 days in the Workhouse, 5 years probation, and permanently debarred from state and federal contracts. .

Following the sentencing announcement, a representative of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office  read anonymous Victim Impact Statements that detail the suffering and hardships faced by some of the workers Batres exploited. One worker-leader stated that “This man took advantage of us since we did not know our rights. He did whatever he wanted to do with us. The back pain I suffer from is chronic. Sometimes I cannot sleep. Sometimes I cannot work. This will affect my future”. Another worker-leader statedHe is capable of anything. There are many rumors that I have heard such that he is going to make up pay quite a bit for having worked against him in this present case. I think the proposed jail time is not enough. He needs to see what it is like to suffer the consequences of his actions. I think he is a danger to society”. 

 

Witnesses in the case first came forward with the support of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), a community organization based in the Twin Cities that educates workers about their workplace rights. A CTUL spokesperson read a Community Impact Statement at the sentencing explaining the broader impacts of Batres’ actions in the industry (Read CTUL’s full statement here): 

 

So what is the real impact of Batres’ actions in this case? Large developers and finance behind those developers have learned that they can put downward pressure on contractors on their projects to build the projects as quickly and cheaply as possible… Contractors like Batres then step into this space and firmly establish a culture of fear within the workforce by threatening workers and retaliating against workers who stand up for their rights. While Batres is not the only contractor behaving this way in the industry, he was a trailblazer in finding creative ways to cut costs on the backs of workers.” 

 

Following the guilty plea, CTUL partnered with  the Worker’s Social Responsibility (WSR) Network to publish a report that highlights the systemic nature of exploitative practices in non-union construction work in the Twin Cities metro area, beyond the Batres case. The report points out that CTUL is currently investigating four other labor trafficking cases involving dozens of construction workers in the Twin Cities, details workers’ stories of abuse, and proposes a long-term solution to the problem through a new independent monitoring agency – Building Dignity and Respect Standards Council. Read the full BDR report here

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Statement on Minneapolis 2020 City Budget

We are pleased to see that the Minneapolis City Council is investing in our community by adding ONE additional wage theft investigator in the 2020 budget and further investing in community contracts for outreach, education, and enforcement to make sure wage theft ordinances have a real impact on workers’ lives.

Thank you to the workers who stood up and raised their voices. Your bravery and power is felt by ALL workers in Minneapolis. We also want to thank Minneapolis City Council members for your partnership in prioritizing these budget items and lifting workers’ voices.

Wage theft is a rampant problem in Minneapolis and disproportionately affects low-wage black and brown workers. A stable income, stable housing, and access to resources is what makes our communities safe and we are happy to see Minneapolis is moving in this direction. As we celebrate this victory, we also continue to stand with Reclaim the Block in their demands to divest from police and invest in community prevention measures, like enforcement of wage theft, investing in homelessness services, funding solutions to the opioid crisis at the scale of the crisis itself, and more. Instead of criminalizing vulnerable people, we must find alternatives to policing and continue to invest in our communities.

CTUL celebrates this as a victory for low-wage workers of Minneapolis and shows us the power of workers’ voices when we come together and tell our stories. There is more work to be done and we hope for your continued support in making a truly safe and just Minneapolis for all.

 

Batres Trial

Batres Pleads Guilty to Labor Trafficking, Other Charges

This afternoon, Batres pleaded guilty to labor trafficking and other charges. This case highlights systemic abuses that are happening in the construction industry. CTUL will be posting updates about the case soon. In the meantime,

Click here for CTUL’s perspective on the case

Grow Power at CTUL’s 9th Annual Gala! Oct. 24th

Our 9th Annual Gala is coming up in October! Join us to invest in our next strategic campaign, celebrate a year of powerful wins, and refresh our spirits with food, art, and music. Ricardo Levins Morales will provide a keynote speech, and an exhibit of five decades of his work will be up in our space. For information about tickets, access, interpretation, dress, and food, go to https://ctul.net/gala. To volunteer, contact Sheff (sheff@ctul.net).

Details:

October 24th, 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. @ 3715 Chicago Avenue

ASL interpretation, Spanish interpretation, quiet space, and childcare provided

Near city bus lines 5 and 23

¡La lucha sigue sigue!

 

Conozca los Derechos / Know Your Rights

CONOZCA LOS DERECHOS: 1 de julio, 2019 Aumenta el Salario Minimo en Minneapolis!

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: July 1, 2019 Minimum Wage Increase in Minneapolis!

Despues de años de lucha, los trabajadores de las Ciudades Gemelas hemos ganados nuevos derechos laborales importantes, incluyendo salario mínimo de $15 y tiempo de enfermedad pagado en Minneapolis y St. Paul. Empezando el 1 de julio, 2019 el salario minimo en Minneapolis sube a $12.25 / hora para negocios grandes y $11.00 / hora para negocios pequeños. Ganamos estas victorias gracias al liderazgo de trabajadores que lideraron múltiples huelgas, marchas, reuniones con politicos y mucho más. Ahora nos toca a los trabajadores defender nuestros nuevos derechos. Hagan clic aqui para saber como defender sus derechos.

 

Through years of struggle, low-wage workers in the Twin Cities have won important new workplace rights, including a $15 minimum wage and paid sick time in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Starting July 1, 2019 the minimum wage in Minneapolis goes to $12.25 / hour for large businesses and $11.00 / hour for small businesses. We won these victories because of the leadership of low-wage workers who led multiple strikes, marches, meetings with elected officials, and much more. Now it is up to workers to defend our new rights. Click here to learn how to defend your rights.