Hispanic Workers on Long Island Demand Equal Pay

Female workers of Quality King on Long Island are planning a protest to call for fair wages. (Photo provided to El Diario)

Female workers of Quality King on Long Island are planning a protest to call for fair wages. (Photo provided to El Diario)

Hundreds of women who work in repacking hair products for a company called Quality King on Long Island are calling out the existing wage gap between their male coworkers, who they say make more despite performing the same job.

Currently, the workers at this company, located in Bellport, are being represented by the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 2013 and are negotiating the contract that expired last May. They have not been able to come to an agreement on the issue of equal pay regardless of gender.

Vilma Erazo, 53, has been working in the aforementioned division for 13 years. “It’s frustrating to see how our work is valued less in the company and even more that we women are paid so much less than the men,” said the employee, a native of Honduras.

Erazo, a mother of six, said that it is difficult to live on the minimum wage and that she, like many of her female coworkers, is left with no choice but to work extra hours or have two jobs to make ends meet. “Supporting a family is hard with such a low income,” she said.

Most of the employees are from El Salvador and Honduras and they make the established minimum wage of $8.75 an hour. The women are preparing a demonstration to call for fair wages.

“We will no longer allow this situation to continue for workers; they work hard and help this multimillion-dollar company,” said Mark Carotenuto, the union’s president. Numbers provided by the union indicate that around 200 employees work in the repacking division, of which 95 percent are women and 5 percent are men.

Despite repeated attempts by El Diario to obtain a comment from Quality King regarding the wage gap complaints, the efforts were unsuccessful.

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