Tag: Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes

Small Business Employees in New York, Many of Them Immigrants, March to Demand Paid Sick Time

By Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, FI2W Contributor
Guillermo Barrera says he was firedafter he asked his boss for a day off due to illness. (Photo: Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes)

Guillermo Barrera says he was fired after he asked his boss for a day off due to illness. (Photos: Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes – Click for more)

Hundreds of workers marched over the Brooklyn Bridge last Thursday calling on New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to support a bill that requires local small businesses to provide paid sick days to employees.

The bill would address cases like that of Guillermo Barrera.

Barrera, an immigrant from Mexico and a father of two, was showcased by the organizers as the quintessential example of what workers without sick-day rights endure.

He said he was fired September 18th from his job of seven years as a cook at a Brooklyn restaurant, because he felt too sick to work and asked his boss for the day off.

“Many workers like myself cannot miss a day of work or get sick because of fear of losing our jobs,” Barrera said. “Especially in the current economy, many workers suffer mistreatments from their bosses.”

In New York City, organizers said, over 900,000 workers, many of them immigrants, do not get a single paid sick day, either for themselves or to care for a sick child.

The lack of regulation in this area has caused many workers to be fired, suspended, or threatened by their employers. The proposed legislation, sponsored by Manhattan City Council Member Gail Brewer, would give workers the right to nine paid sick days a year.



Immigrants Use Facebook to Connect with Family – and Issues – Back Home

Thousands of Venezuelans living abroad, for example, used Facebook last week to learn about and participate in an international protest against President Hugo Chavez. They set their Facebook status to the demonstration’s slogan: “No Más Chavez” (No More Chavez.)

The use of Facebook and other social networks by the Venezuelan opposition had already become so prominent by July this year that the Venezuelan government responded with an official statement. In response to the September march, it also launched its own Facebook campaign.

Immigrant advocacy groups in the U.S. are also using Facebook to increase their visibility and mobilization.

Make the Road New York, a New York City-based immigrant advocacy organization, is exploring the idea of incorporating Facebook training in its computer literacy workshops for immigrants and revamping its presence on the social network. The idea came from Mauricio Rocha, 24, who arrived in Queens from Colombia three months ago. Rocha thinks Facebook can contribute to the organization’s effort to mobilize immigrants.

“Every person of my age uses Facebook, not only on their desktops or laptops but on their phone and handhelds,” said Rocha. “Older people learn and adapt very quickly to this technology. In Colombia, Facebook helped organize a million-person movement against the FARC. We can do the same here in Queens.”

A random search on the “Facebook Groups” option will bring up congregations of Mexican Jews, Haitians in Connecticut, Indians Abroad, Colombians in London, Israelis in the World — all sorts of nationalities and movements have created their own Facebook public square.

A search of the word “immigration” this week showed almost 7,000 groups.

Immigrant Neighborhoods in New York Continue to Reel From Mortgage Foreclosures and Job Losses

Photo: The Furman Center

Photo: The Furman Center

By Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, FI2W contributor

NEW YORK — Four years ago Jorge Guerrero, a 46-year-old Ecuadorian immigrant, realized his dream of buying a house.

“They (real estate brokers) served everything on a silver tray for me,” Guerrero recalled in a phone interview in Spanish. “They told me that because my wife and I had a good income I didn’t even have to use my savings to buy a house, I could get a loan for the full price, rent the upper floor and the basement to pay the mortgage, and refinance to lower the interest rate.”

It seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. He bought a house in Jamaica, Queens for $580,000. But things did not go quite as planned. The upstairs tenants failed to pay their rent for months, and Guerrero lost $10,000 in defaulted rents and legal fees.

“And then the whole economy went down and everything changed,” he said.

His wife, an accountant, was laid off from work in September of 2007; Guerrero suffered an accident at his workplace in July that will prevent him from working for at least six months. Today, after four years of making mortgage payments without a single interruption, he still owes $595,000 — $15,000 more than he spent on the house in 2005, while the actual value of the property has plunged to $500,000.

Guerrero’s options, which he explained with the precision of someone who has spent a lot of time researching, are foreclosure, bankruptcy or loan modification. While the latter is his preference, it is not an easy path. (more…)

Immigrants Protest Napolitano as She Asks the Public to Join Fight Against Terrorism

Advocates are getting frustrated with Obamas immigration policies. (Photo: New York Immigration Coalition)

Advocates are getting frustrated with Obama’s immigration policies. (Photo: New York Immigration Coalition — Click to see more photos.)

NEW YORK — More than 30 immigrants and immigrant advocates demonstrated on Manhattan’s Upper East Side on Wednesday to protest U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano as she visited the Council on Foreign Relations. Napolitano was in New York to announce a new strategy to involve individuals in the fight against terrorism.

The demonstration, which ended with a press conference, is one of the most visible signs to date of immigrant advocates’ growing frustration over the Obama administration’s immigration policies.

“By the end of this year, we hope he (President Obama) will have much more to show. He has to switch from talking to actions. Right now, statements are positives and actions are negative. There is a big gap,” said the director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), Chung-Wha Hong.