“My friend told me that there were immigrants working there who were being treated badly and living unnaturally,” he says. [The owner had them living in a basement!] “They didn’t get any overtime pay and often didn’t receive their full paycheck.” Carlos was instrumental in connecting some workers at Collegetown Pizza with the Workers’ Center. He was president of the Latino Civic Association at the time.
“We talked to folks at the Workers’ Center, did interviews with my friend and other employees from Collegetown Pizza and then decided to go with a group to talk to the person in charge of the restaurant.
“After that, the case was passed to New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer where it was determined that there were several workers, including those who left, who were owed money for working long hours, seven days per week, with no break, no time off, and very little pay. The owner was bullying the employees. That was my first big experience with the Workers’ Center.”
Thanks to the Workers’ Center and the New York State Attorney General’s office, the owner of the Pizzeria was obliged to pay $7,230 in back pay to workers and allow employees who had worked at the pizzeria for over a year to take sick and personal days. This was one of the first cases that the Workers’ Center tackled in its early days, and led to our work on immigrants’ rights issues. The issue of workers being abused at restaurants continues to be a problem to this day.
Carlos came on to the Leadership Team of the Workers’ Center in 2009 and was hired onto the staff in 2011. His job is specifically Occupational Health and Safety Trainer. Carlos reaches out to any and all workers in need of health and safety training, doing educational workshops, but he has an especially strong tie to the immigrant communities in the area, making sure that they are aware of their rights.
Carlos is a husband, father of four, and a musician. He plays Spanish guitar. He helps to organize bands with members of the community to give people who may not be considered “professionals” the chance to enjoy what they love.