Workers’ Dignity fights for unpaid wages

Thousands of residents and community leaders came together to support those fighting for fair wages in two weekend protests in Nashville on November 14 and 15.

The first protest was held at Nana’s Diner in Nolensville on November 14 by Workers’ Dignity. The protest centered on Mario Flores, a former employee of Nana’s Diner who was owed $3,399.08 in lost wages. According to a press release, Flores said he was required to work more than 20 hours of overtime in a week, but he was never paid for that overtime.

Frances Caggiano, owner of Nana’s Diner, admitted to supporters that she withheld Flores’s overtime pay but refused to pay him. Caggiano told some of the protesters that her business did not pay their employees overtime.

Flores sent a letter to Caggiano in July to ask for the wages he was owed after joining Workers’ Dignity in May 2015.

The nonprofit group went to Nana’s Diner and presented evidence of Flores’ claims, but Caggiano refused to pay Flores the money he was owed. Flores said that the people at Nana’s Diner need to meet their obligations when it comes to how they treat their employers and not take advantage of them.

“My employers at Nana’s Diner tried to exploit me because I am Latino,” said Flores in a press release. “They wanted me to think that I didn’t have any rights. They were abusive people to work for.”

The second protest that occurred over that weekend was at the Global Events Center in Nashville on November 15. The protest, organized by Workers’ Dignity, was put together to protest against Johnny Lezcano, owner of Lezcano Painting and Drywall, over the alleged mistreatment of his employees. According to a press release, the protest started when Karla Moreno, Lezcano’s former employee, came to Workers’ Dignity for help in recovering over $1,370 in unpaid wages for the work she performed for Lezcano.

Moreno sent a letter to Lezcano in July 2015 along with making calls to Lezcano requesting that he pay the wages owed. However, Lezcano refused to pay her the unpaid wages even after meeting with a representative from Workers’ Dignity. Moreno said that recovering the unpaid money was important for her to provide financial support for her and her children.
“If he paid me my money, then I would be able to provide more stability for myself and my children,” said Moreno.

Workers’ Dignity is a non-profit worker’s center which brings together low-wage workers. Through non-violent action, more than 100 workers have recovered over $250,000 in stolen wages since it was formed in 2010.