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South Chicago workers win code of conduct

A leading South Chicago merchant will sign an employer’s code of conduct as part of a settlement in a wage dispute tomorrow.

Centro de Trabajadores Unidos (Immigrant Workers Project of South Chicago) is announcing the agreement by Antonio Macias, owner of three neighborhood food markets, at a press conference tomorrow (Tuesday, March 16, 1 p.m.) in front of the mural at 91st and S. Commercial.

Workers at Macias’s La Fruteria sued for violations of minimum wage and overtime laws last year, working with CTU and represented by the Working Hands Legal Clinic. They recovered their wages, and as part of the settlement Macias agreed to sign a code of conduct pledging to abide by labor laws and respect workers, said Ana Guajardo of CTU.

Noting that Macias “has a lot of influence in the community,” Guajardo said CTU hopes the agreement “sends a message to other business that they need to follow state and federal laws and respect workers.”

Fighting wage theft has been a major focus of CTU, she said.  Some cases are settled in response to community pressure, and sometimes claims are filed with the labor department or in small claims court, she said.

“Part of it is education,”Guajardo said. “Many workers don’t understand their rights.”  CTU conducts workshops and speaks in area churches.  It was in a presentation at a church that employees of La Fruteria first made contact with the group, she said.

Earlier this year 28 workers supported by CTU filed a lawsuit against a construction contractor seeking nearly $100,000 in unpaid wages,she  said.

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Category: labor, Southeast Side, wage theft

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