In the first big Minnesota case concerning wage theft and labor trafficking, Ricardo Batres was recently charged with recruiting and exploiting Twin Cities construction workers. Yesterday, one day before his trial, Batres pled guilty to two of three charges against him.
“We are grateful that the legal system is holding those who commit wage theft and illegal trafficking of construction workers seriously,” said Jessica Looman, Executive Director of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council, an advocate for Minnesota’s union construction industry. “We want to thank the Hennepin County Attorneys’ office, the Minnesota Department of Commerce Fraud Bureau, the Advocates for Human Rights, Center for Workers United in Struggle (CTUL), and the building trades unions in our state for making a difference for these workers, our communities and our industry.”
“The case against Ricardo Batres shows the strength of the construction community when we stand together against wage theft and labor trafficking,” said Dan McConnell, Business Manager of the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council. “It’s imperative that we protect the health of the construction community by continuing to call out bad actors who exploit our workers for their own gain.”
In July, 14 unions that represent Minnesota’s unionized construction workforce announced the launch of a new initiative to combat wage theft, exploitation, and labor trafficking, which poses a growing threat to the welfare of immigrant workers and the health of the state’s construction industry. The “Not On My Watch” or “Ya No Mas” campaign enlists union staff and rank-and-file members in efforts to identify cases of abuse, and to assist exploited construction workers.
The Minnesota and Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Councils will continue to support efforts to protect all Minnesota construction workers. #notonmywatch.