Mexican Consulate hosting free labor rights workshops

Aug 30, 2011

Latino workers struggling with issues of fair wages, harassment and safety in the workplace are getting help this week from an unlikely source. The Mexican government is sponsoring workshops in Seattle and other cities to help those workers understand their rights.

More than any other ethinic group, Latinos suffer more minimum wage and overtime violations by employers, according to Lisa Heaton, heads communications for Washington's Department of Labor and Industry. Latinos are also more likely to be injured on the job and have the greatest number of work-related fatalities.

That's why, Heaton said, it’s imperative for the Latino community to be informed about the resources at their disposal.

The series of workshops at El Centro de la Raza in Beacon Hill, are part of National Labor Rights Week, sponsored by Mexican consulates in 50 U.S. cities.

The sessions are free and open to the public, said Sylvia Cabrera, head of the legal department for Seattle's Mexican consulate.

"Everyone can benefit. It’s not only for people that are legally here because also people that are not legally here do have rights and they need to know that," he added.

The initiative was kicked off in Washington D.C. when ambassadors from El Salvador, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic signed agreements with the Department of Labor, pledging to protect immigrant workers from unscrupulous employers. This is the first year Seattle is participating.

Other local workshops– both in English and Spanish – will cover workplace rights relevant to women, and what to do if employers don't pay the wages they owe. 

Schedule of upcoming sessions on Wednesday:

  • 9:00 - 9:15  Consular Protection
  • 9:15 - 10:00  Wage & Hour Division, the Fair Labor Statndards Act and Common Violations
  • 10:00 11:15  Migrant Worker's Labor Rights (U Visas)
  • 11:30 - 12:30  Labor Rights: What Every Woman Needs to Know
  • 12:30 - 1:30  Labor Rights Clinic