Yesterday, five former H-2B workers demanded a resolution to a long-fought battle over the wages owed to them and thousands of other workers.
Represented by CDM and Public Citizen Litigation Group, they filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Labor Secretary in order to recover the wages they are rightfully owed.
The fight over H-2B wages began ten years ago, when a coalition of H-2B workers — represented by CDM and allies — won a decision overturning DOL regulations that allowed H-2B employers to pay illegally low rates. After the court ruled in favor of the workers in 2013, DOL issued a new rule and informed H-2B employers that they needed to pay a higher wage rate.
But before they paid the wages, thousands of employers appealed DOL's decision. Those appeals have remained unresolved in administrative limbo for six years.
Now, Jorge, Joel, Hector, Leonardo and Hilario — former workers in the traveling fair and landscaping industries — are stepping up to put an end to DOL's inaction and ensure all H-2B workers receive the wages to which they're entitled.
Jorge Palafox, a leader in CDM's Migrant Defense Committee, is one of the plaintiffs in the case. In 2013, Palafox worked on an H-2B visa for a California food concession company. In his words, "This case could affect thousands of workers like me who weren't paid the wages they should have received. It's a lot of money for us. Those wages aren't just important for us workers; they belong to our families. At the end of the day, this case is about them. That's why we go to work in the United States."
Justice delayed is justice denied. It's time for the Department of Labor to tell H-2B employers to pay the wage rates the law requires.
We won't rest until the rights of Jorge, Joel, Hector, Leonardo and Hilario — and all migrant workers — are respected.