The Freedom School had a successful IWW union training this past weekend with an unexpected surprise. Trinh Truong, a student at Proctor High School and former worker at The Children’s Museum, marched on her former employer along with activists and workers who came to the training. Trinh had been a volunteer and then paid worker at the museum for years but recently left her job after she could no longer deal with the mismanagement, a precarious work environment and lack of dignity and respect on the job. She never received her final paycheck even after making repeated requests to get what was legally owed to her.
She decided to approach the IWW for help. On Saturday, around twenty people accompanied Trinh to the Children’s Museum. Several Freedom School students also came to show support. She handed a letter to a former supervisor with the one simple demand that she get paid her last paycheck or else the IWW would take further action. The letter was signed by Trinh as well as members and supporters of the IWW. The group crowded into the front entrance of the museum and were told that director Marlene Brown was not there. Another supervisor took the letter, looked at the determined crowd, and said he would take care of the matter.
Within an hour, Trinh got a misspelled text from Marlene Brown informing her that she would receive her paycheck. Marlene kept her promise and Trinh received her paycheck in the mail on Monday. This is the first time an actual march on a boss was done during an IWW training. As the old IWW saying goes, “direct action gets the goods.” Through this action, Trinh and members and supporters of the IWW showed the importance of having a grassroots union like in Utica. Wage theft is a common practice by many bosses. Workers in Utica now have a way to fight back and Trinh was the first one that did.
Given the recent bad press about questionable and potential illegal practices of Marlene Brown, she made the right decision. (You can read more about this issue here: http://www.uticaod.com/article/20140321/News/140329899)
As the IWW often says, “An injury to one is an injury to all!” Hopefully, other workers will contact the IWW for their wage theft issues.