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NY Worker Exploitation Task Force Holds First Public Meeting


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Task Force to Combat Worker Exploitation held its first public meeting in Manhattan on Wednesday.

The task force heard labor rights complaints from five people who have washed dishes, cleaned houses, and worked on farms and construction sites.

Carol Turner, a construction worker who emigrated from Jamaica, told the task force that he’s been regularly shorted on his paycheck. But he says he and his co-workers won’t complain because they can’t afford to get fired.

“You know you are the sole breadwinner. You have family maybe in Honduras, Jamaica, Barbados, wherever it is. You are skeptical to go forward to make a complaint because, you know, you don’t want to lose that opportunity,” he said.

Turner’s testimony will help the task force write recommendations to give to Cuomo in December. In the meantime, Cuomo is creating a unit of attorneys and investigators to make sure employers that violate labor laws don’t retaliate against workers who complain to the state.

The task force is one of the first in the nation to target labor law enforcement in low-wage industries that tend to employ immigrant workers. Cuomo created the task force in response to an investigation exposing worker exploitation of immigrants at nail salons in New York City, many of whom were from Nepal.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.
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