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Letters to the Editor

Why unethical employers exploit Latino workers and pass over black workers

Chicago's labor force has been growing since the recession nearly a decade ago, but the area's African-American population hasn't benefitted as much as other groups.
| Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times (File)

Regarding the Sun-Times story “110K more Chicago area-residents are working since 2010, but blacks lag behind“:

As a former job developer in Rogers Park, I worked with local Latino residents who shared countless stories of wage theft, injuries and exploitation at their factory jobs. To talk about Latinos leading Chicago labor force growth and the high black unemployment rate without mentioning racist hiring practices is disingenuous.

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Chicago is a large distribution hub and notoriously the home of “temp towns” where temp agencies routinely pass over black temp workers for jobs in favor of Latino immigrants. Why is that? Because a Spanish-speaking work force, with language barriers and possible legal status concerns, is less likely to report their employers for wage theft or worker safety concerns. As a result, Latinos suffer the highest rate of wage theft and workplace injuries.

It’s no wonder Chicago is losing workers. We need to hold law-breaking employers accountable with stronger worker protections and higher penalties for racist employers exploiting a cheap labor force.

Aura Aguilar, Rogers Park

Tough enough for City Hall

Laura Washington defends the huge obstacles to ballot access for mayoral candidates in Chicago as necessary to show that contenders are “tough enough to surmount a pile of paperwork.” In fact Chicago’s requirements are far tougher than in other cities. Before Mayor Richard M. Daley raised the signature requirement — at first to a number that was ruled unconstitutional — the number of signatures required was 3,000, fewer than one-fourth what it is today. As I recall, the mayors we elected back then were pretty tough.

Washington also says we need a mayor like Rahm Emanuel who has “the muscle and moxie” to take on the likes of President Trump, who hasn’t visited Chicago because “he’s scared of us.” In fact, while a quarter million Chicagoans marched to protest Trump in the first days of his administration, Emanuel was suggesting ways the city could work with Trump. In the waning days of his own administration, Emanuel is calling on congressional Democrats to back off from investigating the president himself.

I suspect that if the president is afraid of Chicago, it’s because of the huge counter-protest that shut down his 2016 campaign rally here and the massive Women’s March the following January.

Curtis Black, Rogers Park