CDM is leading the Fair Workers, Fair Wages! campaign to end the systemic, repeated human rights abuses in traveling fairs and carnivals, where thousands of H-2B migrants labor in unsafe and unjust conditions. Fair Workers, Fair Wages! involves strategic domestic and international litigation; outreach to policymakers, workers, and the public; policy advocacy to government agencies and legislators; and collaborations with worker centers, law firms, low-wage worker advocates, and universities.
The Fair Workers, Fair Wages! campaign began with the efforts of Comité leader José de Lira. After Mr. De Lira participated in several workshops of the worker-led, worker-organized Comité, he called CDM with information about abuses in the fair industry in New York. Mr. De Lira courageously brought together a group of workers to speak out about their experiences working on H-2B temporary guestworker visas in 2007 for New York-based Dreamland Amusements, Inc.
Forced to live in insect-infested housing and subjected to discrimination and unsafe working conditions, workers received $275 to $350 each week, regardless of the number of hours they worked. CDM connected Mr. De Lira to the Workers’ Rights Law Center of New York, which led to a New York Attorney General investigation in 2008. In August 2009, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced that Dreamland would pay the workers $325,000 in back wages. Under the settlement, Dreamland must reform its workplace practices and policies to comply with labor and civil rights laws. An independent monitor will supervise Dreamland’s worksites to ensure that the company provides adequate housing for employees and no longer discriminates against workers on the basis of race, national origin, or citizenship.
José de Lira’s efforts have led to a broader, industry-wide investigation of abuses against fair workers. CDM is leading a litigation effort to ensure that the border is not a barrier to justice for fair workers. With the support of counsel, CDM brought cases against three other fair companies in North Carolina, Georgia, and California and has developed specialized educational materials for fair workers.
For more information about Fair Workers, Fair Wages!, see:
- CDM’s Letter to the Editor: “Fair labor practices unsafe and unfair,” Syracuse Post-Standard (May 13, 2011).
- CDM has joined forced with the Worker Justice Center of New York and other organizations to address abuses in the fair industry at this year’s New York state fair; for information about CDM’s allies’ efforts to combat human trafficking and other abuses at last year’s state fair, see: State fair vendor abused workers from Mexico.
- North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation Petition