Statement on Police Killing of George Floyd

Yesterday on May 26th 2020, the Minneapolis Police Department killed George Floyd, a Black man, in broad daylight on the corner of 38th and Chicago, down the block from CTUL’s building. This is our community. This is where we gather and expect to be safe. The police have terrorized Black communities for hundreds of years in our city and throughout this country. This isn’t just about a few officers, but institutional racism and police violence that plagues our community. We need systemic change.

At the end of 2019, CTUL demanded that the Minneapolis City Council reconsider their proposal to increase the Minneapolis police budget and invest in community organizations instead. Even after hundreds of community testimonies warning about this exact type of injustice, our city officials failed us, just how government officials failed Jamar Clark, Philando Castile, Eric Gardner, and now George Floyd.

CTUL member Ignancia Ambriz stated that “This makes me angry. We are trying to deal with the craziness of the pandemic and now we need to deal with the police too. We are supposed to be surviving this moment, not dying in the hands of the police”.

We are gathering at the site of this horrific killing, at the intersection of 38th and Chicago Ave in Minneapolis, to demand justice for George Floyd and his family. Firing them is not enough, they must be criminally charged for their hideous conduct. Additionally, we need a fundamental change to the Minneapolis Police Department.

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Ayer, el 26 de mayo de 2020, el Departamento de Policía de Minneapolis mató a George Floyd, un hombre Negro, a plena luz del día en la esquina de 38th y Chicago, una calle desde CTUL. Esta es nuestra comunidad. Aquí es donde nos reunimos y esperamos estar a seguros. La policía ha aterrorizado a las comunidades Negras durante cientos de años en nuestra ciudad y en todo el país. No se trata solo de unos pocos oficiales, sino del racismo institucional y la violencia policial que afecta a nuestra comunidad. Necesitamos un cambio sistémico.

A fines de 2019, CTUL demandó que el City Council de Minneapolis reconsiderara su propuesta de aumentar el presupuesto de la policía de Minneapolis e invertir en organizaciones comunitarias. Incluso después de que cientos de testimonios de la comunidad advirtieron sobre este tipo exacto de injusticia, los funcionarios de nuestra ciudad nos fallaron, al igual que los funcionarios del gobierno le fallaron a Jamar Clark, Philando Castile, Eric Gardner y ahora a George Floyd.

Miembra de CTUL, Ignancia Ambriz, declaró que “Esto me enoja. Estamos tratando de lidiar con la locura de la pandemia y ahora también tenemos que defendernos de la policía. Se supone que debemos sobrevivir en este momento, no morir en manos de la policía ”.

Nos estamos reuniendo en el lugar de este horrible asesinato, en la intersección de 38th y Chicago Ave en Minneapolis, para exigir justicia para George Floyd y su familia. No es suficiente despedirlos y exigimos penalmente acusados ​​por su horrible conducta. Además, necesitamos un cambio fundamental en el Departamento de Policía de Minneapolis.

 

(photo from Floyd’s social media page)

Response to Lifting of Stay at Home Order

Workers are the frontline Defenders of Community Health during COVID-19 and must be included in deciding and implementing workplace safety standards

We find ourselves in a pivotal moment of change. Instead of going back to the old “normal”, a reality based on the exploitation of workers, we can unite together and demand a new normal led and shaped by workers’ voices, one that prioritizes safety over profit, and a chance to build a new economy that allows workers and their families to survive this crisis and thrive beyond it.

On Wednesday May 13th, Governor Walz announced that Minnesota will begin reopening sectors of the economy. We believe this decision is coming too soon, considering the public health recommendations and the lack of protection for workers who will be called back into work. For those who do go to work, we need to ensure that frontline workers have a voice in establishing and enforcing safety standards in their workplaces.

Click here to read CTUL’s complete statement on workplace safety during COVID-19

COVID-19 KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS!

(en español abajo)

The World is changing cecause of COVID-19 and everyone’s jobs & lives are affected. Workers have won new rights in the middle of the pandemic

IT’S UP TO US TO DEFEND OUR RIGHTS

  • If you are still working, your employer is legally required to provide you with a safe workplace, including protections from COVID-19. Click here to learn more about the right to a safe workplace.
  • If you have lost your job for any reason related to COVID-19, there are paid benefits available to all workers, including:
    • If you work at a small to medium sized company (smaller than 500 employees), and you have personally be quarantined or you are caring for a family member (including a child whose school has been closed), your employer is required to provide you with up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and 10 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Click here for more details.
    • If you have been laid off or lost your job for any reason, even if you are a gig worker or independent contractor, you can apply for Unemployment Insurance. Click here to learn more about Unemployment Benefits. Click here to apply online, or call 651-296-3644 to apply by phone.
    • If you work in Minneapolis or St. Paul, you have the right to Earned Sick and Safe Time pay. Click here for more details
    • If for any reason you do not qualify for any of these benefits, there are many other community resources available. Click here to learn more.
  • If you run a small business or are an independent contractor, and your business is impacted by COVID-19:

If you have any questions about your workplace rights, contact CTUL at 612-913-6626 and leave a message with your name, phone number, and question.

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CONOSCA LOS DERECHOS DURANTE LA CRISIS DE COVID-19

El mundo está cambiando debido a COVID-19 y los trabajos y vidas de todos se ven afectados. Hemos ganado nuevos derechos laborales en medio de la pandemia

DEPENDE DE NOSOTROS DEFENDER NUESTROS DERECHOS!

  • Si todavía está trabajando, su empleador está legalmente obligado a proporcionarle un lugar de trabajo seguro, incluidas las protecciones de COVID-19. Pronto tendremos información en español. Por ahora, haga clic aquí para obtener información (vean la segunda página) sobre el derecho a un lugar de trabajo seguro.
  • Si ha perdido su trabajo por cualquier motivo relacionado con COVID-19, hay beneficios pagados disponibles para todos los trabajadores, que incluyen:
  • Si maneje un negocio pequeño o si es un contratista independiente, y su negocio es afectado por COVID-19:

Si tiene alguna pregunta sobre sus derechos laborales, comuníquese con CTUL al 507-301-8079 y deje un mensaje con su nombre, número de teléfono y su pregunta.

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