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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2010
5:01 PM

Menendez’ POWER Act Will Help Curb Rampant Exploitation and Eroding Workplace Standards for All Workers

Bill Will Stop Abusive Employers from Gaming Broken Immigration System to Push Down Standards for Everyone

WASHINGTON - April 14 - Today, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina released the following statement on today's introduction of the Protect Our Workers from Exploitation and Retaliation Act (POWER Act) by Senator Menedez (D-NJ).

"Senator Menendez' POWER Act is a critical step towards stopping abusive employers from gaming our broken immigration system to exploit workers. This bill would put an end to the repulsive-but all too common--practice of unprincipled employers who use immigration enforcement as an excuse to squash workers' rights.

"I know this story all too well. My family came to this country in the 1950s under the notorious Bracero program that brought in needed farm help, but did not provide protections from abusive employers, low wages and terrible working conditions. Over the decades, our immigration laws have changed, but the ability of unscrupulous employers to threaten workers with abuse, deportation or withholding of wages has not.

"These abuses hurt U.S.-born workers as well as immigrant workers because when some workers are easy to exploit, it depresses wages and creates dangerous working conditions for all. Nobody wins--not American workers, not immigrants and certainly not well-intended business owners who play by the rules.

"By holding employers responsible for labor law violations, providing protection for victims of crime and labor retaliation and ensuring that worksite immigration enforcement does not undermine worker rights, the Senate can take a step towards ensuring the jobs of tomorrow are jobs America is proud to create."

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With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers—not just corporations and CEOs—benefit from today's global economy.


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