Posts Tagged ‘employment rights’

Many Have Forgotten Sandy Survivors’ Struggles; Day Laborers Remember and Volunteer

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

The truckloads of volunteers that once filled Staten Island streets after Hurricane Sandy struck have dwindled to a halt. But while memories of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation have faded for many, the reality remains stark for Staten Island homeowners still struggling to rebuild.

Fortunately, day laborers have not forgotten.

Better known for their predawn gatherings on street corners as they seek work in gardening and construction, these men and women without legal documentation continue to make the nearly five-hour round trip commute from Yonkers to Staten Island to provide for free their skills and expertise. They tear out five-feet-tall weeds suffocating once-green lawns, repair boilers and strip out mold-laden walls.

Last week, men from Obreros Unidos de Yonkers, a group of day laborers in the Yonkers area served by Catholic Charities, accompanied Catholic Charities staff to install sheetrock for a homeowner in Staten Island’s Midland Beach.

Catholic Charities has an ongoing involvement with Obreros Unidos De Yonkers, a group of approximately 300 day laborers in the Yonkers area. Through this program, Catholic Charities educates workers on employment rights and responsibilities in order to prevent exploitation and abuse. Catholic Charities also assists in the collection of unpaid wages, helps workers get access to healthcare services, provides emergency food, and offers English language and computer skills instruction.

Please join us in helping Sandy survivors rebuild.

Volunteers are needed to work with us on Columbus Day to replace damaged chain link fencing at a homeowner’s yard in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island. We also need folks to help us bundle up the damaged fence and stretch and hang a new one.

All tools and equipment will be provided as well as transportation from Manhattan to the site in Staten Island and back. All we ask is that you bring some muscle and your lunch.

Click here for details.

Hungry for Immigration Reform? Join Our fast.

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan said the opening prayer yesterday at the United Community Center of Westchester in New Rochelle at a rolling fast held by day laborers, members of the immigrant community, and organizations within the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

The fast kicked off in California and just reached New York.

Participants’ communal hunger spotlights the immigration debate. Members of Catholic Charities’ Obreros Unidos in Yonkers — along with United Community Center of Westchester in New Rochelle and the Don Bosco Center in Port Chester  — are taking their turn in a week-long fast from June 10 through June 14.  They are publicly sharing their stories about the toll deportations take on their own lives.  And they are chanting “Not One More” to demand that the President suspend the deportations as Congress seeks immigration reform.

Through Obreros Unidos, Catholic Charities educates day laborers in the Yonkers area on employment rights and responsibilities to prevent exploitation and abuse. Catholic Charities also assists in the collection of unpaid wages, helps workers get access to healthcare services, provides emergency food, and offers English language and computer skills instruction.

“I am fasting on behalf of the 300 day laborers of Obreros Unidos de Yonkers and their families, many of whom have personal experiences of family separation because of deportation” said Janet Hernandez, one of the fasters and an organizer with Catholic Charities for Obreros Unidos de Yonkers.

Join us by saying “Not one more” to deportation.

Looking for more information about Obreros Unidos de Yonkers?

  •  Call (914) 375-6729/48 or visit the office at St. Peter’s Church basement, 91 Ludlow Street, Yonkers, NY  10705
  •   Call the Catholic Charities Help Line — (888) 744-7900 — to find services you need.

Battling for Bishops and Pawns, Day Laborers Face Off with Friars at Family Day Celebration

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Day laborers’ children battled to capture bishops, kings and pawns at chess competitions held with Franciscan Friars at a family day celebration on May 19th.  For the first time ever, St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers opened its doors to Obreros Unidos and their families on Pentecost Sunday.  City of Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano joined in the festivities.

The Catholic Charities-sponsored Family Day brought together more than 150 local day-laborer family members with seminarians, friars and Catholic Charities staff.  It was part of Catholic Charities’ ongoing involvement with Obreros Unidos De Yonkers, a group of approximately 300 day laborers in the Yonkers area.

Through this program, Catholic Charities educates workers on employment rights and responsibilities to prevent exploitation and abuse. Catholic Charities also assists in the collection of unpaid wages, helps workers get access to healthcare services, provides emergency food, and offers English language and computer skills instruction.

The midday event began with Pentecost Sunday mass to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Next, at an indoor picnic pulled together in response to the pouring rain outdoors, participants feasted on tacos, churros and flan.  Then they partied together as they faced off at chess matches, danced in Zumba exercise classes, painted faces and dabbled with arts and crafts.

Check out our Facebook page for more photos of the event.

Would you like to join Obreros Unidos de Yonkers?

Call (914) 375-6729/48 or visit the office at St. Peter’s Church basement, 91 Ludlow Street, Yonkers, NY  10705

Call the Catholic Charities Help Line — (888) 744-7900 — to find services you need.