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Construction Workers’ Story

Last year, the Immigrant Workers’ Rights Program represented six construction workers against a real estate developer to recover unpaid wages. The workers, all of whom are immigrants from Paraguay living in Corona, were referred to CMS by their parish, Our Lady of Sorrows, when they did not receive any pay for their work renovating residential buildings in Manhattan.

Hugo, one of the workers assisted by CMS, explained the abusive working conditions he endured: “The buildings where we worked were cold and damp, we worked every week and asked for pay many times, we continued working for weeks without pay hoping to get our money.”

Jose, another worker, added: “It was so bad, we didn’t even have money to pay rent or buy food. Our employer just knew he could take advantage of us because it is always hard to find other construction work in the winter months.”

CMS was successful in recovering the wages owed to the six workers. Javier, one of the immigrant workers, explained what this meant to them: “We are so grateful that CMS was here to help us get paid for the work we did; but more importantly, we are glad CMS is helping immigrant workers because unfortunately the kind of exploitation we suffered happens to so many other immigrants and now we can send a message that workers are not alone.”