Mexican Consulate seeking guest workers it says are owed back wages
April 29th 2012 · 4 Comments
The Mexican Consulate in Yuma is assisting the department in trying to locate the H-2A workers who worked for the farm labor contractor Escamilla & Sons in 2008 and 2009.
Under the H-2A program, U.S. employers can hire foreign workers on temporary work visas to fill any seasonal jobs for which the employers can’t find domestic labor.
An investigation by the Labor Department found that 474 Mexican-born H-2A workers are owned back wages in varying amounts by the contractor, according to the consulate’s Patricia Pinzon.
In a settlement with the federal government, the contractor agreed to provide funds to cover back wages that total “well over $100,000,” said Eric Murray, director of the wage and hourly division of labor department’s Phoenix District office.
Now the department is trying to find the workers so it can give them the money they’re owed, he said.
“We’d like to put the money in the workers’ hands,” said Murray. Otherwise, the money goes into a fund in the Treasury Department.
The Labor Department is seeking the Mexican Consulate’s help in finding the workers since they are “constantly on the move,” he added.
Bajo El Sol could not reach officials from Escamilla & Sons for comment. Murray and Pinzon said they are not sure whether the company has since gone out of business or is operating under a different name.
The consulate has released a list of the workers that can be seen at http://portal.sre.gob.mx/yuma/pdf/ListaPrensa.pdf. The consulate is asking anyone who knows the whereabouts of any of the workers to call it at 928-343-0066.
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By BAJO EL SOL