César was working for a small company with a friend. He spent six months teaching his friend carpentry and his friend eventually started his own construction company. 

Two years later, César ran into his friend while he was buying supplies at a Home Depot. His friend asked César to give him a hand on some jobs. 

“He put me to work building a home, new construction, 2,000 square feet, putting in the doors, windows, the frame of the house. I had to drive an hour and a half each way to the job—all told, I probably spent two work days just driving. It was at least 60 hours of work, and he promised me $1,500. He said he would send a check in two weeks. But after two weeks, he tells me he doesn’t have any money. Then he avoided my calls for four months. I knew him for two years, trained him. I trusted him.”

César found a worker center and spoke with Brian, a worker advocate.  Brian called his former employer, who apologized and promised to pay.  Brian wrote up a contract that stipulated that the employer would pay $300 per month until the debt was paid off, plus $100 in court costs.  But even then, César’s former employer never signed the contract.

Although César was unable to recover his stolen wages, he says that “it’s great to have Interfaith Workers Network and the worker center.  We learn about our rights, and stop being scared, because we know we’re not alone.  Coming here is like coming to my family—a place to be safe.”