Many Latin American immigrants to the United States work in jobs that are considered high risk, such as in construction or oil production. Last week, the Department of Labor renewed its efforts to ensure that immigrants have access to the same expectation of safety and workers' rights as their North American counterparts. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez extended partnership agreements at a signing ceremony with the ambassadors from Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico and Nicaragua.
The agreements apply specifically to two of the Department's agencies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), which will collaborate with embassies and consulates to provide information on U.S. labor laws regarding workplace safety, wages and working hours. These laws extend to workers who are in the country on temporary labor visas, such as for agricultural work.
Besides expanding workers' rights, these partnerships make it easier for federal agencies to enforce labor laws in high-risk or low-wage jobs, where violations are most common. Secretary Perez reaffirmed the need to guarantee fair wages and a safe workplace to all workers in the U.S., regardless of origin.
"The Department of Labor has shown a very credible concern for the underprivileged foreign workers," said Dominican ambassador Aníbal de Castro.
"We are satisfied with the results obtained over the last three years and are grateful for the opportunity to continue this close cooperation on an issue of mutual interest," added his Nicaraguan counterpart, Francisco Campbell.
Construction site safety programs help ensure the well-being of all workers through training and providing information on safe worksite practices.