Poor worker treatment for Latino citizens exists in Madison, just as in any other city in the United States.
For several years the Latino population has been steadily increasing in America. The 2000 U.S. Census revealed that the Hispanic population now exceeds that of the black population, making it the largest non-white group of Americans.
The results of this population boom are also evident throughout the United States in areas not traditionally known for large concentrations of Latinos.
According to Andrew A. Reding, Senior Fellow for Hemispheric Affairs and Director of the Americas Project, political corruption has become rampant within the past century in Mexico.
Reding said 80 percent of tax revenue is sent directly to the heads of state in Mexico City, rather than being sent to the impoverished states that need it the most.
Because there is often no escape from poverty, many people find it necessary to leave Mexico for the United States in hopes of finding steady employment.
Because of their illegal alien status, many said they are either unable or do not want to join labor unions. Some employees said they do not complain about low wages and harsh treatment in the workplace in fear of being deported.
One Latina woman, Ana, immigrated illegally to Madison from Mexico five years ago. She has worked at a local hotel as a housekeeper for six months.
Ana said she is frequently called into work for extra hours and does not receive compensation or overtime pay. When she complained to her manager, she was informed that because she did not have the proper work documents, she was in no position to change her situation.
Another woman from Mexico, Daniela, spent two months in 1996 working as a dishwasher for the Olive Garden on the west side of Madison.
“The work was very hard. I worked washing dishes; we could not eat there,” she said. “One day one of the cooks gave me a plate of spaghetti, but I was told that I had to eat in the bathroom.”
Roger, from Mexico City, has been an American citizen since 1997. He began working at Stoughton Trailer in November of 2000. It was not until two months later that he was asked to produce a work permit. While there, Roger felt as though he did not receive treatment equal to that of the American employees. Latinos and Americans were kept on separate lines, and though Roger’s line performed well, they were frequently insulted by being called stupid or lazy.
Like Ana, Roger also complained of management’s refusal to pay him.
“I needed one more check before I took my vacation time, which is my right as an employee. They didn’t send me my money for two weeks,” Roger said. “The man I talked to said that the mail had not arrived yet. Then he gave me the money and told me it had been an error on his part [misplacing the check].”
President Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox have met to negotiate an immigration reform plan to help grant legality to some of the illegal Mexican aliens who currently live in the United States.
Such a plan would allow exploited workers to improve their working conditions and receive benefits and wages equal to those of their American counterparts.