So I got to participate in my first protest today!! Our session today was at the CCUN (Church Center of the United Nations) on the ideas of social justice applied to labor laws, fair wages and justice-filled and sustainable economics. We did a role-playing game that gave us an idea of what it would be like to work in a shoe-factory in Peru. It was very eye-opening to realize that so many families work 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, with every family member involved, for 3-5cents per shoe!!! So sad!
After our session, we headed down to NMASS (National Mobilization Against SweatShops) to learn about the explotaition of workers. While one would think of sweatshops only being overseas, we learned about acts of explotation happening right here in NYC! The organization is currently fighting against restaurants who are overworking and underpaying their workers, particularly delivery-people. They work for less than $2 an hour (even though the min. wage for tipped works is $4.60!!) They are forced to work in harsh conditions, internationals are purposely pitted against one another (and most of the workers are documented workers as well), they are fined exorbitant amounts for any minor infraction, and when they finally joined together to demand a fair wage, they were forced to sign an illegal contract saying they made min. wage, even though they didn’t. They refused, and were fired!! So NMASS helped them organize and they have been protesting Saigone Grille for two months, hoping to raise working conditions, not only in this one location, but all over the state. Apparently, the low pay and overworking is a common practice in many New York and New Jersey buisnesses. So we stood outside with signs and flyers, informing patrons of how the workers were treated, and answered questions. It was a really positive experience, to be standing next to men and women who’s lives were on hold, fighting for the right to earn a living wage. As soon as I get them, I’ll post pictures from the protest.
Speaking of pictures…I am trying to keep updated with my Flickr account, so check me out…http://www.flickr.com/photos/papilio419