Posts Tagged ‘employment rights’

Little Jocelyn Farms for Food & Freedom

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

jocelynBy Alice Kenny

As a light breeze brushes freshly tilled soil, Jocelyn, 5, picks up a hammer to help her dad build a family garden.

It’s a magical moment for her family, a time when Jocelyn, her mom, dad, and big brother Steven, 7, think about working the soil and enjoying the sun, about picking tomatoes, peppers and beans.  Best of all, it’s a time when they don’t think about growling bellies or the daily search for work.

Jocelyn’s father belongs to Obreros Unidos de Yonkers, a group of approximately 300 day laborers in the Yonkers area served by Catholic Charities.  Here they learn about employment rights to prevent their exploitation and abuse, receive assistance collecting unpaid wages, get help accessing healthcare services, participate in English and computer skills classes and receive emergency food to supplement their gardens’ bounty.

Most importantly, Catholic Charities helps Jocelyn and families like hers become independent.  The community garden on Oak Street in Yonkers where Jocelyn helps her family is one of two community gardens maintained by and for day laborers.

The land, donated by the Greyston Foundation, an integrated network of programs that help families move toward self-sufficiency, had been littered with plastic bags and rotting garbage.  The laborers tossed out the garbage, built a fence to keep out future litter and are hammering together 22 boxes so that Obreros Unidos de Yonkers  families can  reap the harvest from  their own plots of land.

This community garden is one of two maintained by Obreros Unidos. The second, tilled right in front of the Catholic Charities offices on Hawthorne Avenue in Yonkers represents a joint effort between Catholic Charities Community Services, the Greyston Foundation, YMCA of Yonkers and Habitat for Humanity of Westchester.

“The gardens enable families, many who worked as farmers in the South and Central American nations where they were born, to share this tradition with their children while teaching them the importance of hard work and community,” says Catholic Charities Day Laborer Organizer Janet Hernández.

Making a Living Should Not Include Dying

Monday, April 28th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Workers' Option 2

Image from TUC

Workers’ Memorial Day, observed every year since the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) was established on April 28 1971, is a day to honor those workers who have died on the job, acknowledge the grievous suffering experienced by families and communities, and recommit ourselves to the fight for safe and healthful workplaces for all workers.

To promote worker safety, Catholic Charities is offering a 10-hour OSHA Outreach Training Program for entry- level  – this Saturday and Sunday, May 3 and May 4.  Taught in English and Spanish, the course helps workers become knowledgeable about workplace hazards and contribute to our nation’s productivity.

The program provides training on the recognition, avoidance, abatement and prevention of safety and health hazards in workplaces. It also provides information regarding workers’ rights, employer responsibilities, and how to file a complaint.

Join us:

  • This Saturday, May 3 from 4 – 9:30 p.m. in the San Pedro Church basement, 91 Ludlow St, Yonkers, NY
  • And  this Sunday, May 4, from 12 – 5:30 p.m. in San Pedro School, 204 Hawthorne Ave., Yonkers, NY

Space is limited so reserve your seat now.

*This course is part of Catholic Charities’ ongoing involvement with Obreros Unidos of Yonkers.  Catholic Charities educates this group of day laborers about employment rights and responsibilities.  It provides assistance to prevent exploitation and workplace abuses including help with collecting unpaid wages. It assists with integrating workers into society.  It provides local resources including access to healthcare, emergency food and identification cards.  And it offers a meeting space along with English as a Second Language and computer classes to help immigrants with their goal of acclimating and contributing to their new homeland.

For more information call Janet Hernandez 917.579.9048 or Wilson Terrero 914-963-1730 x 227

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.