Unidad Latina en Acción and Rosa DeLauro Push to Stop Wage Theft

Brothers Axel and Henry Tubac worked for a company installing kitchens. For the first two years they were paid without fail. Then, for six and seven weeks, respectively, their employer stopped paying them.

When they met with U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro at New Haven Legal Assistance headquarters Tuesday afternoon, the brothers still hadn’t been paid.  They have filed suit against their former employer for wage theft.

“It was just a nightmare what happened to me,” Axel Tubac recalled. “I did not have food. I talked to my boss many, many times. He just seemed like he don’t care. He owes me about $4,000; $500 in overtime that he did not pay.”

….

Lugo was arrested on Nov. 22 for disturbing the peace during a protest outside of Goodfellas. He argued that the police are more interested in harassing him for protesting rather than going after restaurant owners that are allegedly committing the far more serious crime of stealing from their employees and thumbing their noses at the law.

To read the entire article with all the photos, visit: DeLauro Targets Wage Theft | New Haven Independent

 

Unidad Latina en Acción Against Wage Theft

Joseph Foran, ULA

On Dec. 2, about 15 members of Unidad Latina en Acción and allies met with Mayor Harp and Police Chief Esserman.  We read to them a letter that documented the many specific cases of Goodfellas Restaurant failing to pay employees minimum wage. A wage theft victim from Thai Taste gave his personal testimony.

Mario Cerame, an attorney on 1st Amendment rights, sent a letter to Mayor Harp outlining the violations that the New Haven Police Department made when stopping a protest outside of Goodfellas on Nov. 20 and arresting John Lugo, charging him with disorderly conduct.

We will be meeting with Mayor Harp’s office to follow up on our policy recommendations. Mayor Harp and Chief Esserman must condemn the actions of the officers who violated our constitutional right to assemble without police intimidation and retaliation. Our members have the right to protest anonymously, and it is illegal and inappropriate to demand identification, especially when NHPD and Goodfellas have threatened to use IDs to create a blacklist. Officers must be educated that a civilian noise complaint alone is not grounds for arrest. We also assert our right to record any interactions our members have with police. Our families shall not be threatened, and officers shall not question our decision to bring children to peaceful protests. New Haven must immediately revoke the outdoor seating license of Goodfellas restaurant. It is unacceptable that our city is facilitating a criminal enterprise at Goodfellas, an enterprise that has been found guilty of wage theft on multiple occasions by multiple government agencies and is currently under investigation for forced labor, wage theft and other threats to the health and safety of New Haven residents. The City of New Haven gave Goodfellas the license, and the City of New Haven is the only entity that can revoke it.

Two members of ULA (Karim Calle and I) agreed to attend meetings of the Community Policing Task Force to address the issues we raised in our letter. We are also collaborating with Board of Alders on wage theft. Meanwhile, public actions against wage theft at Goodfellas, Thai Taste, and other establishments continue.

Picket at Goodfellas for Wage Theft Leads to Arrest of Protest Leader

by Unidad Latina en Acción

On Nov. 20, 2015, New Haven Police arrested John Lugo, one of the leaders of Unidad Latina en Acción (ULA), during a workers’ rights protest outside Goodfellas Restaurant. “You have no right to be here,” said the police to ULA. (Video at http://www.facebook.com/ULANewHaven/videos)

Stand with us: We will not be silenced. We will not be intimidated.

We have been picketing Goodfellas for 6 months. We have been picketing businesses that steal wages from workers for 10 years, and we will not stop. Arrest the owner of Goodfellas, not the peaceful protesters. Wage theft is a crime. Protesting for our human rights is not a crime. The CT Department of Labor and US DOL have found Gerry Iannaccone, owner of Goodfellas, guilty of stealing from dozens of workers. Yet this crime goes unpunished.

New Haven gets a lot of credit for being a welcoming city for immigrants. Is New Haven a welcoming city when immigrants are criminalized for peaceful protest and wage theft goes unpunished? Unidad Latina en Acción is currently supporting workers in cases of wage theft and discrimination in Goodfellas, Gourmet Heaven, 116 Crown, Thai Taste, Fair Haven Clam & Oyster, El Buen Gusto, La Carreta, among other local businesses.

In a press conference in 2014, Chief Esserman stated that wage theft is a crime under Connecticut law and that the NHPD is willing to act to enforce that law. In spite of those good words, the NHPD is doing the opposite: punishing the victims of wage theft and their advocates. On Nov. 6, 2015, Esserman walked into Goodfellas to eat dinner while ULA was picketing the restaurant, ignoring our attempts to speak with him. On Nov. 20, after the NHPD arrested John Lugo, one of the officers entered the restaurant and came out with a bag of food for the police. NHPD, which side are you on?

This is not the first time that the NHPD has colluded with the owner of Goodfellas to intimidate workers. In 2011, ULA filed an internal affairs complaint against NHPD after a sergeant demanded that protesters show ID at a workers’ rights picket outside Goodfellas, and he threatened that the owner of Goodfellas would use the IDs to create a “blacklist” so that protesters would not be employed by other restaurants. [See: http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20110122/complaint-filed-against-new-haven-cops-over-goodfellas-protest.]