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Progressive States Network applauds Labor Department's new priorities to protect all workers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 1, 2009
CONTACT: Austin Guest, aguest@progressivestates.org, 212.680.3116 x 110

PROGRESSIVE STATES NETWORK APPLAUDS LABOR DEPARTMENT'S NEW PRIORITIES TO PROTECT ALL WORKERS

Emphasis on on protecting rather than punishing workers signals promising road forward on immigration policy

NEW YORK — The Progressive States Network, a national network of state legislators and advocates, is in full support of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’ new priorities for the department. In her remarks yesterday at a press conference with New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Solis reiterated her commitment to ensure basic protections for all workers, native and immigrant alike.

Solis has committed the Labor Department to investigating wage and hour law violations by employers and health and safety concerns. This much needed policy will help address the pervasive problems of the underground economy by preventing unscrupulous employers from threatening and exploiting undocumented workers, thus maintaining higher labor standards for all.

Immigration and Workers' Rights Policy Specialist Caroline Fan said, “I am greatly heartened that the Department of Labor is deciding to emphasize protecting immigrant workers instead of punitive measures against employees. We have become only too familiar with the devastating effects of workplace raids which divide families and leave towns in chaos. This new direction promises to uphold labor standards for all workers and provides encouragement to states to enact their own wage enforcement policies."

State governments have led the way for these reforms by enacting laws to increase fines for employers who routinely underpay or withhold wages. In New York and California, vigorous inspection and regulation have resulted in a reduction in fly-by-night employers as well as increased revenue from greater employer compliance with state tax laws.

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Progressive States Network is a national network of state legislators and advocates that works to implement policies to benefit working families in all 50 states.