Rochdale, New York — For more than a week, workers at a garment processing plant in New York City have been kept hostage by the company, which has been accused of violating U.S. labor laws and withholding wages and working conditions.
The workers are part of a growing movement that’s calling for better treatment of garment workers.
They say they have been denied medical care, forced to work overtime and have not been paid in over two years, according to the Center for Worker Justice, a labor rights advocacy group.
They are also demanding that the company pay the wages they have earned and provide workers with benefits, as required under federal law.
“We’ve been denied all our rights,” said one of the workers, who declined to give his name.
“There is no money in this country.
The only thing that we can ask for is that the CEO is paid and we’re paid our fair share.”
The workers say they were paid only $12.50 an hour in the first few weeks of March, when they were working a 10-hour shift at a factory on East 72nd Street.
They were told they would earn $15 an hour by June, but have not received any of that money, said another worker, who requested anonymity.
The workers have been working at the factory for more than two years.
The union representing garment workers in New Jersey, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, called the company’s actions “unconscionable.”
“We urge the company to cease and desist immediately from engaging in unlawful and unsafe practices and practices that will ultimately jeopardize the safety of the company and its employees,” said the union’s president, Joseph Tobin.
“Our members deserve better than to be held hostage to an unfair labor practice and to be denied their basic rights.”
The garment workers have not yet been paid, but the company has told them they can get paid through a new subcontractor, according the International Business Times.
The company says it has not heard back from the workers.
The International Brotherhood has called for the company under its leadership to be fired, as the company faces legal challenges from labor groups in several other states, including in New Mexico, where the factory is located.
“The union is not going to allow a company to be allowed to take away workers’ rights and livelihoods without having a plan in place to deal with the issues they raise,” Tobin said.
“This is not a small thing.
This is a huge thing.
We need a company that can make changes and a company with a plan.”
The company has not responded to questions about the workers’ situation.
The factory is one of several factories in the country that are also facing lawsuits over their labor practices, including at one factory in Florida that is now owned by a company owned by the son of a convicted felon.
In March, the company was ordered to pay $8 million in back wages and damages to workers, and it has agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine to the U.N. to settle labor and environmental groups.
The company also is facing a lawsuit from the United Steelworkers union in New Hampshire, which is seeking an injunction that would stop the company from paying wages and other benefits to the workers for two years and to take them off of an indefinite layoff list.
In its lawsuit, the UAW says the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by refusing to pay workers overtime.
The UAW is also seeking to have the company fired for allegedly failing to provide medical care to workers.
The UAW also is suing for damages in federal court.