Protest Against an Abusive Employer

Voz/Worker’s Rights Education Project–a day labor project of Portland, Oregon–together with allies, such as Jobs With Justice, carpenters, laborers, and volunteers held a protest against an abusive employer that likes to exploit workers, specifically day laborers.

The company, Wild West Construction, and its owner/boss, Naomi Ahmed, hired eight day laborers from the East Burnside Labor Corner on August 7, 2006, to do construction/sheetrock work. This group of workers was hired to work at a new condo building on the corner of SE Woodstock and 93rd Ave, which is the property of Naomi Ahmed. The laborers worked there for 3 weeks (August 7th-25th) approximately 10 to 11 hours a day. Mr. Ahmed, the boss, paid them the first two weeks, but on the third week of work, he told them he would not pay them because they “did not do good work.” He stated that the city inspector came to check the work and that it did not pass the inspection. Mr. Ahmed told them that if they want to be paid they needed to fix all the work that did not pass inspection and then they would receive payment but not for the third week’s work. The Wild West Construction and Naomi Ahmed owes these eight day laborers wages for that week of work.

Ahmed has an accomplice who hires the laborers for this company, whose name is Ramon. After personnel from Voz tried several times to contact Ahmed and Ramon to arbitrate a payment plan without any positive result, the organization then decided to initiate legal proceedings against Wild West Construction and Naomi Ahmed.

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After a meeting between the eight workers and Voz staff, it was also decided to do an action to create community awareness about the abuses that day laborers face day to day on the corners. On September 25, 2006 we organized a protest/picket line in front of Naomi Ahmed’s building to demand the payment of wages to the eight day laborers and to denounce this kind of abusiveness by employers. About 30 supporters from Job with Justice, carpenters, laborers, students, volunteers, and day laborers participated in this picket line, in support of these workers. We are pursuing litigation against this company and its owner, Mr. Ahmed. We are also planning other actions against this abusive employer until he pays all wages due to these day laborers.

Our appreciation goes out to all of you that came to support our struggle in this fight and hope to unite with you again soon.