Diana Salas, Sandy Worker



I was one of the workers that helped clean up and rebuild our city after Hurricane Sandy.

For 5 years I worked in an industrial cleaning company until I decided to resign two months ago
because of years of abuse. This company received thousands of contracts to respond to the hurricane Sandy emergency. The same day the hurricane came, the owner of the company called us to begin the cleanup. For over three months , I worked 10 to 15 hours day, seven days a week, cleaning schools libraries, hospitals , banks and in the most affected areas of lower Manhattan, Coney Island in Brooklyn, far Rockaway in Queens, and Staten Island.

The work we did was hard work, and very dangerous. We saw asbestos, mold, human waste and more. We were never given adequate protection. Simply a paper mask, gloves, and an overall. And to do this important work for the city, we were paid only $10 an hour, which is just a fraction of the prevailing wage we were supposed to be paid under the law for some of this work. The company never paid us overtime as they required by law.

And because we were afraid, we didn’t dare to ask for more.

But now that I joined the organization I discovered that this company was stealing wages and
evading taxes.

This company abused me and many undocumented immigrant workers. It's not fair that companies like this, they receive government contracts while continuing to abuse their workers.

But I am proud of the work I did to help the city after Sandy. And I want to continue my work, but I want to make sure workers have adequate protection and fair wages.

And so here I am telling my story, because I am not longer afraid.  I want to fight to end these abuses.

Thank you for fighting with me.

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Own the Dream: Guide for Immigrant Youth/Unete al Sueno: Guia para Jovenes Inmigrantes