WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today kicked off a series of nationwide events to mark Labor Rights Week 2023 at the department’s Washington headquarters by joining officials of the Mexican Embassy and other diplomatic missions to highlight the importance of migrant workers’ rights and how the department’s enforcement agencies work with consulates across the nation to ensure these rights are upheld and that violators are held accountable.
Co-sponsored by the Embassy of Mexico in the U.S., the event included a recorded video message from Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su, and remarks by other department leaders and U.S. government officials and by the Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Ambassador Ana Luisa Fajer. Representatives of diplomatic missions from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were also present.
At the event, the department also launched MigrantWorker.gov or TrabajadorMigrante.gov and a series of videos answering migrant workers’ frequently asked questions about their rights and pointing them to resources to help workers defend them. The new site offers migrant workers information about the rights and protections available to them under federal laws and where they can turn for help.
The event included participation by Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker, Deputy Wage and Hour Administrator Patricia Davidson, Women’s Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon, Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee, National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Vice Chair Jocelyn Samuels, and Daría Hernández, migrant worker leader and member of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante’s Migrant Defense Committee.
Today’s event begins a long series of outreach events in the U.S., sponsored by federal agencies and U.S. consulates of Mexico and those of several Central and Latin American countries. The events will raise awareness and inform employers of their responsibilities and workers of their protections under federal law.
During Labor Rights Week 2023, from Aug. 28 to Sept. 1, events will also focus on issues such as working in excessive heat and related illnesses, illegal use of child labor and unlawful recruitment fees, gender-based violence and harassment, and unsafe and unhealthy working and living conditions. Events will also raise awareness of the department’s Workers Owed Wages program that connects workers with wages recovered on their behalf.
Started in 2009 as a Mexican Embassy initiative, Labor Rights Week now includes participation by five of the department’s enforcement agencies, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“Often, immigrant and underserved workers face unique challenges at the worksite, such as language, educational, cultural barriers and newness to the U.S. that can make it difficult for them to understand and learn their rights as workers, the same rights guaranteed to all workers. At other times, workers find that simply claiming and exercising their rights can result in retaliation.” said Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health Doug Parker. “We are collaborating with worker advocates, labor unions, worker centers and others who are leading the fight to protect the rights of every worker in this country and ensure dignity of their daily labor.”
“The Wage and Hour Division is proud to join our partners in this initiative – the Mexican Embassy and other embassies and consulates, federal labor agencies, and non-governmental and community organizations – to provide outreach and educational resources for workers across the country,” said Principal Deputy Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman. “We want migrant workers to know that federal labor protections, from wage laws to child labor laws and beyond, apply to them no matter where they are from or what language they speak.”
“We must ensure that every person coming to the U.S. seeking work has access to support, resources and information about their rights across their experience as a migrant worker, from the time they are recruited to work in the U.S. to the time they return home safely,” said Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee. “The U.S. Department of Labor, as well as other federal agencies, are here to ensure that workers are recruited fairly; receive full payment of wages; are not discriminated against based on gender, status or other characteristics; and that workplaces are safe, healthy and free of child labor.”