Durham community members gathered outside the office of the Cottages of Durham for the second time to support the payment of back wages for eight workers.Photo: AFSC / Arnie Alpert
As Durham residents, student leaders, faith community members and others gathered last night for a vigil at the offices of the Cottages of Durham, the AFSC’s Maggie Fogarty received the call they’d been hoping for. It was Larry Vogelman, attorney for the workers on whose behalf the vigil had been organized. The workers--eight carpenters seeking payment for unpaid wages and overtime--had reached a settlement with Cottage Builders. They would be paid the following day. Maggie shared this news with the forty or so assembled people, who erupted in cheers.
The announcement was the culmination of three weeks of intense involvement by the AFSC New Hampshire Program and many allies, including Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, Joe Donahue and Marty Coyle of the Carpenters Union, and members of the Durham Community Church, United Campus Ministry/The Waysmeet Center, and Dover Friends Meeting. Leaders of two UNH student groups, CORAJ (Committee on Rights and Justice) and the Peace and Justice League, were also involved. This loose coalition generated community meetings and a public action to draw attention to the plight of these particular workers, and the unjust treatment of workers happening across the state.
Click here to read a Union Leader article.
Click here to view a video of the demonstration held February 1.
Click here to read the Feb. 10 article in Fosters Daily Democrat.
The group’s success in drawing attention to this exploitation prompted state and federal labor investigations and an outpouring of compassion and concern. Now that these workers have been paid, the community will remain vigilant to hold this company accountable to the law. “Tonight’s news reminds us that we have power together,” said Rev. Larry Brickner-Wood, a chaplain at theWaysmeetCenter. “We can take actions together that improve our community and ensure fair treatment for workers.”
AFSC and allies will also give attention to the behavior of the Dover Police, which called immigration officials when people came to the police station asking for assistance because their rights had been violated.
Click here to read about the march held February 1 to dramatize this situation.