“I worked at a farm called Melrose in Auburn, NY. The housing conditions were really bad. For example, there were rats and cockroaches and the house was very cold. It had a heater, but all the heat would go up and on our floor it was cold. The water smelled bad and was cloudy.

Estela and her children

In December, members of the Workers Center, from Syracuse, came to visit and I told them I wanted to fix the housing conditions because my children couldn’t sleep because of the cold and the cockroaches and rats. One day my two-year-old almost got electrocuted because one of the electrical outlets didn’t have a cover. At the same time, the wage I was making was eight dollars an hour, and I was told I had the right to receive at least minimum wage.

I talked to the owner’s daughter-in-law Jenny, who was in charge, to get them to pay me the minimum wage. I learned that what they were doing was wage theft. The owner was doing the same with my coworkers. The owner mistreated my son and told him bad words. Jenny told us we didn’t have a job anymore because they needed people who can work full time, which I couldn’t all the time because I had to breastfeed and take care of my children.

I asked the Workers’ Center for help because I became homeless and was desperate.  I am now living at Slocum House with my children. We are safe and I know we will have a better future. I will recover my stolen wages and I want to help other workers to speak up for their rights. We need this house for safety and to help each other. We ask for some compassion and understanding. I have met so many good people here who come to help us and care about us. Thank you.”