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Cleaning worker fights system and gets back pay

August 20, 2009
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BOSTON — A Coverall Health-Based Cleaning Systems franchise employee successfully campaigned to receive lost wages for her and her fellow employees, according to the Boston Globe.
Gloria Rodriguez, who cleaned at Legal Sea Foods and The Cheesecake Factory during the overnight shift, told her story to churches, university students, state officials, the media and last month to the general counsel of Coverall who flew up from Boca Raton, Florida, the story stated.
According to the story, Coverall decided to donate $40,000 to two nonprofits, Centro Presente and the Chelsea Collaborative, which helped Rodriguez and will use the money to pay 18 workers their lost wages.
Worker advocates are calling the payment of back wages a victory for immigrant workers who organized and stood up for themselves despite their unfamiliarity with state labor laws, the story noted.
Coverall general counsel member Jacqueline Vlaming said: "We sell franchises and having a bad reputation in the Hispanic community, that’s huge for us. Although I have no way of verifying their claims, my brand is important to me. It wasn’t entirely a philanthropic gesture. It was goodwill in the community."
The donation is not a payment of wages because Coverall, which has 5,600 franchise holders nationwide, including 250 in Boston, many of whom are minorities, is not legally responsible for paying franchise employees, even in the case that the franchise is terminated, the story added.
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