Published by Chris Chmielenski
We have some more worker exploitation news, and this one is a doozy. Che Garibaldi Inc., operator of Taqueria Garibaldi, brought in a ‘priest’ for employees during work hours. This ‘priest’ would hear confessions and encourage employees to “get the sins out.” He seemed very focused on getting out the real seven deadly sins–namely whether they came in late or took their employer’s name in vain.
The Department of Labor (DOL) press release announcing this atrocity said:
“Federal wage and hour investigators have seen corrupt employers try all kinds of scams to shortchange workers and to intimidate or retaliate against employees but a northern California restaurant’s attempt to use an alleged priest to get employees to admit workplace “sins” may be among the most shameless.”
It is particularly notable that the DOL does not definitively state this is the most shameless example of employer chicanery. How low is the bar for employer behavior when this is only arguably the most shameless tactic? The owners behind this scam, Eduardo Hernandez, Hector Manual Martinez Galindo, and Alejandro Rodriguez, were fined $140,000 in back pay and damages to 35 employees/victims. These scammers failed to pay overtime, illegally stole from the tip pool, and also threatened immigration consequences to employees if they cooperated with the DOL investigation.
That last part is pretty important. The DOL does not directly mention the immigration status of the employees shamelessly exploited in this case. On a separate note, the DOL really needs to be transparent about the immigration status of victims as we see labor exploitation expand. It will shed further light on the narrative of innocent employers who are just looking for foreign workers to do jobs Americans will not do. In this case, the owners clearly hired foreign workers because they could intimidate them with immigration consequences if they tried to vindicate their rights. One cannot say these were jobs Americans won’t do unless you think Americans should be manipulated by their religious beliefs into being robbed of fair wages and working conditions.
A perpetual wall of lies like “labor shortages” and “jobs Americans won’t do” has been constructed to obstruct an honest debate on immigration in this country. But there is a crack in everything and the light of reality is getting through. Sure, not every employer is using fake priests to coerce employees for the sin of being late to work. However, the exploitation of workers is not an isolated incident. There are more cases than I can keep up with of allegations of wage theft, forced and child labor, discrimination, indentured servitude, and wage suppression.
Once more, with feeling: There is no labor shortage. Employer’s exploitation and low wages are the cause of any reluctance on the part of American workers to take a job. When ample evidence of mass layoffs and discrimination in recruitment of Americans exists, the fault lies in our employers, not ourselves. Arguing for expansion of foreign worker numbers in this climate is enabling the exploitation of all workers. We at least now know of a ‘priest’ who can hear the confession of elected officials when they want to atone for their sins.
JARED CULVER is a Legal Analyst for NumbersUSA
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