The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, along with other worker advocacy organizations such as the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, is seeking use of what’s called “deferred action” to help protect undocumented workers who have been abused by their employers. Deferred action is a temporary protection against deportation for workers who report labor issues.
This is on the heels of the investigation of a company that was hired to paint portions of Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, where a federal judged cited the paint contractor for failure to pay overtime from September 2019 to March 2020, the time between a Department of Labor investigation and when the government filed its complaint against the contractor.
Undocumented workers have often chosen not to report wage and safety issues due to fear of being fired or deported. In this case, the federal judge wrote that the painting contractor acted “not only to silence [its] workers, but also to actively manipulate them to provide false information to the government’s investigators.”
A spokesman for local IUPAT District Council 16 states that the union does not have sufficient ability to protect these workers, but that deferred action would give these workers protection so they could report wage theft, health and safety issues, and other labor violations without fear of deportation.
Some painters have stated that their checks weren’t reflecting promised pay, for example that the agreed upon rate of $20 per hour was reduced to $8.25, and one newspaper investigation concluded that painters were underpaid by approximately $1,900 per year. The company was previously investigated by the Department of Labor in 2013 and has also been investigated by OSHA for safety violations. The contractor stated that he is not violating any laws but that the union sees him as a competitor and is trying to bully him out of business.
In April, several organizations, including NDLON and the local IUPAT, along with some former workers, held a protest at the work site, where according to one article, “workers hung precariously from swinging scaffolding.”