‘The Voice of People who are Rarely Heard’
Day laborers in Queens have their own monthly newspaper, Movimiento Independiente de Trabajadores, launched two years ago to cover issues that directly affect them, El Diario La Prensa reported. The article is translated from Spanish below.
Staying silent about stories of abuse and wage theft was not an option for day laborers in Woodside, Queens. With meager resources and unafraid to tell the truth, they publish a newspaper of their own that gets distributed at dozens of locations.
The monthly bilingual publication, Movimiento Independiente de Trabajadores (The Independent Workers’ Movement), has been circulating throughout Latino neighborhoods in Queens for the past two years, in many instances passed on from one reader to another.
Founded by day laborers, activists, and former union members, and geared toward an audience of workers, Latinos and English speakers, the editors of the newspaper say it has become “the voice of people who are rarely heard.”
Workers from all industries collaborate to produce the 16-page paper. It covers issues that directly affect day laborers such as the “Stop and Frisk” policy, Secure Communities, labor rights in the workplace and how to prevent wage theft.
Roberto Meneses, a day laborer since the 1990s and one of the editors, says that although the writers don’t have much experience in journalism, they make an effort to convey their ideas and share their stories.
“When you read the article, it’s possible to get to know the author and put yourself in his shoes. There aren’t any middlemen. The day laborer speaks for the other day laborers,” he said.
Dozens of day laborers support the publication on a monthly basis with small donations to cover the cost of production.
Meneses said they print 2,000 copies for $300 at a local business.
“Workers of all nationalities write using their own country’s slang,” said Meneses. “We write about what affects us, what we fight for, and what we want to change.”
Gustavo Medina, a retired teacher who fought for bilingual education in the 1960s, helps to translate and edit articles from Spanish to English.
Medina emphasized that the learning process doesn’t begin when people start school, and it doesn’t end when they graduate.
“We learn from each other by sharing our experiences, and thanks to that narrative we manage to understand someone else’s struggle, which helps to create a more humane community.”
Marty Kirchner, an activist with the organization Brandworkers, is also part of the team. He assists with translations and writes about campaigns and protests against companies with labor law violations.