It's a story all too familiar to DC's precarious workers. Maria Rodriguez worked at the 14th St Cafe Asian Bistro for nine months, cleaning floors and washing dishes 50-60 hours a week. But when she was out sick, the employer replaced her, refusing to take her back because "We don't need sick workers." Then the man who replaced Rodriguez quit when he discovered that the Bistro would not pay the legal DC minimum wage. Bistro then rehired Rodriguez but refused to pay her the legal wage either. The community group -- and Metro Washington Council ally -- Many Languages One Voice found that Rodriguez is owed $40,580 in wages, overtime and damages and last Saturday the group rallied some 50 workers and supporters who chanted "Pay her now!" for nearly two hours in front of the restaurant. "When the city refuses to enforce its own Wage Theft law, workers must stand up for themselves," said MLOV, which pledged to return.
- report/photo by Bruce Wolf, OPEIU Local 2