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Photo by Mingson Lau/Cronkite News

“For Spanish-speaking workers, being able to report unfair labor practices & petitions for union elections in their own words and language is a great step forward,” Rep. Chuy García (D-Illinois).

The Latino community has a difficult job. Not only do they have to manage discrimination by employers and clients, but some Latinos also have unsafe working environments.

In 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, more than 1,000 Latino workers died from work-related injuries—the highest number since 1992. And the pandemic has only made matters worse. So, who can Latinos turn to when there’s an issue at work? Most of the time, because of language barriers and fear of retribution, Latino workers keep their mouths shut.  

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) offers a refuge of sorts—a place where Spanish-speaking Latinos can now issue a complaint or request assistance in their native language. 

Last month, the NLRB launched a Spanish language e-filing service on its website for users to file unfair labor practice charges and petitions for union elections. 

What is the NLRB?

The National Labor Relations Board, founded in 1935, is an independent federal agency that protects employees, employers, and unions from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private-sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits, and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.

You do not need to be a union member to file a complaint. 

Employees at union and non-union workplaces have the right to help each other by sharing information, signing petitions, and seeking to improve wages and working conditions in a variety of ways. 

Is every employer held accountable by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)?

The NLRA applies to most private-sector employers, including manufacturers, retailers, private universities, and health care facilities. 

The NLRA does not apply to federal, state, or local governments; employers who employ only agricultural workers; and employers subject to the Railway Labor Act (interstate railroads and airlines). 

How do I file a complaint?

  • Visit https://www.nlrb.gov/es to file a complaint. 
  • An unfair labor practice charge must be filed within six months of the occurrence.
  • The affected person can e-file an unfair labor practice charge. 
  • The NLRB has Information Officers at all Regional Offices available to assist if needed. 
  • The Regional Office where the charge is filed will investigate the charge and, if found meritorious, will issue a complaint, absent settlement. 

Illinois Congressman Chuy García applauded the new NLRB Spanish-language website and said that more sites like this must be made available for Latinos. 

“With the second-largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, we must make US government agencies more accessible,” Rep. García tweeted. For Spanish-speaking workers, being able to report unfair labor practices & petitions for union elections in their own words and language is a great step forward.”

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