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Early Arrival: U.S. Open Workers Finally Get Paid After Year-Long Fight

This summary about unpaid work at the U.S. Open was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

Just last week: Amir Khafagy, a Report for America corps member covering labor for Documented, first reported three immigrant women’s allegations that they were not paid for work they did during last year’s U.S. Open.

Those workers have finally been paid back wages: “I feel so good today receiving the salary that we are owed,” said Cecilia Valdés. “I worked, but I didn’t work for free.” 

Valdés and two of her co-workers, Maria and her sister Luz, fought for more than a year to receive over $4,500 in back wages owed to them when they worked as food preparers during the 2021 tennis tournament. The women found it difficult to track down who exactly was responsible for paying them. 

Companies shifted responsibility to each other: The U.S. Open had subcontracted catering out to Levy Restaurants, a restaurant and hospitality company with numerous wage theft accusations. Levy then hired another subcontractor, Event Aces, to handle the recruitment of workers, including these three women.

Event Aces wrote the checks under pressure from USTA: The three women received their individual checks that totaled $4,600, $100 more than they were asking for. According to advocates, the checks were cut by Event Aces, under pressure from the United States Tennis Association.

With so few news outlets covering the struggle of the women, Karen Vargas, New Immigrant Community Empowerment workers’ rights coordinator, insists that Documented’s coverage drew vital attention to the case and put needed pressure on the USTA. 

“You guys [Documented] were giving a lot of work and support for us to keep up the fight and to let it be known what is going on in the city, in the barrio. We are very grateful.”

Stories like this are why local reporting with and for local communities is so important. We hope you read the full story, and consider donating to help Documented reporters stay on this and other important stories impacting immigrant New Yorkers.

STORIES WE ARE FOLLOWING 

New York

Health care worker’s union is fighting a bill that would end 24-hour shifts for home health aides: Home health care workers are campaigning against 1199SEIU, the union that represents them, because it is continuing to support 24-hour shifts. — Documented exclusive

How to sponsor a U.S. visa for a family member: Permanent residents who are at least 21 years old can sponsor a spouse, fiancee, child, sibling or parent to join them, but it could take years. Here’s what you need to know. — Documented resource

Advocates urge City Hall to expand housing voucher rental assistance program to undocumented immigrants: The call from Legal Aid Society, VOCAL-NY, Neighbors Together, and the Community Service Society comes as more asylum seekers arrive in the city. — Gothamist

Report: Nassau County police precincts, headquarters still failing non-English speakers: Over a third of phone calls made in Spanish to Nassau’s precincts and headquarters for the study were disconnected. Another 16% were intentionally hung up on. — WSHU

Around the U.S. 

For voters near border, immigration and border security are a leading cause to change political parties: County Judge Dale Lynn Carruthers said she became a Republican because Democrats weren’t talking about border issues her community faced firsthand, and she isn’t alone. — Texas Tribune

Inside migrants’ journeys on buses from Texas to D.C.: TIME spoke to 15 migrants in Del Rio and Washington and for many, the transportation has been a welcome gift beneath the political gamesmanship. — Read more

Opinion — Russia’s bad economy provides lessons for U.S. trade and immigration: With fewer imports and reduced immigration of high-skilled workers, Russia faces a bleak future, a columnist writes. — Forbes

Washington D.C.

Indictments allege smugglers put migrants in suitcases, empty water tanks: The indictments are part of efforts by the Biden administration to disrupt migrant smuggling networks. — Reuters

SEE MORE STORIES
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