Yesterday, the Washington Post published the latest in a string of investigative stories by the Post and the New York Times detailing the systematic hiring and exploitation of undocumented workers throughout properties operated by the Trump family. This is an issue that America’s Voice has been tracking closely.
The new Post story adds important new evidence to the mix, detailing how undocumented workers at the Trump National Golf Club Westchester in New York were told to perform extra work for little or no pay – evidence of a two-tiered system that specifically exploited the undocumented workforce and underscores the employers’ knowledge of workers’ status. The story also revealed that New York Attorney General’s office is actively pursuing an investigation.
According to Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “Trump is a hypocrite and an exploiter – vilifying immigrants publicly while hiring and profiting off them in his private enterprises. The business model of his network of companies relies on an exploitative, two-tiered system that treats undocumented workers differently. The latest revelations underscore why we need full and fair investigations at the state and federal levels of the Trump Organization’s pattern of exploitation and an immigration policy that recognizes the essential contributions of immigrant labor.”
The Post story also shows why the dismissive comments of Acting ICE Director Kevin McAleenan are so tone deaf. Yesterday, McAleenan minimized the significance of Trump workplace hiring practices, stating that enforcement would “remain targeted at the most significant violators.” Meanwhile, the Post story reminds us that Trump’s enterprises and their multi-state criminal patterns of hiring and exploiting their undocumented workforce shows it to be one of those “significant violators.”
Below, find excerpts from the Post story by Joshua Partlow and David Fahrenthold, “At Trump golf course, undocumented employees said they were sometimes told to work extra hours without pay,” with the full story available online.
On some nights, after the club’s Grille Room closed, head waiter Jose Gabriel Juarez — an undocumented immigrant from Mexico — was told to clock out. He pressed his index finger onto a scanner and typed his personal code, 436.
But he didn’t go home.
Instead — on orders from his bosses, Juarez said — he would stay on, sometimes past midnight. He vacuumed carpets, polished silverware and helped get the restaurant at Trump National Golf Club Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., ready for breakfast the next day.
All off the clock. Without being paid.
“It was that way with all the managers: Many of them told us, ‘Just clock out and then stay and do the side work,’ ” said Juarez, who spent a decade at the golf club, before leaving in May 2018. “There was a lot of side work.”
Allegations that workers were routinely shortchanged on their pay at President Trump’s suburban country club are now the subject of an inquiry by the New York attorney general, whose investigators have interviewed more than two dozen former employees.
The inquiry could raise awkward political questions for Trump, who has made stopping illegal immigration a centerpiece of his presidency and his reelection campaign but faces allegations that his business benefited from low-paid undocumented workers.
In interviews, six former Trump workers told The Washington Post that they felt systematically cheated because they were undocumented. Some told The Post about being denied promotions, vacation days and health insurance, which were offered to legal employees. The same pattern of unpaid labor was also described by a former manager.
Others recounted practices that could violate labor laws. Two told The Post that they had been required to perform unpaid side work. Two others said managers made them work 60-hour weeks without paying them overtime.
A spokesman for the New York attorney general’s office confirmed that it had received complaints from workers about conditions at the club but declined to comment further.
The Trump Organization has denied the allegations, and workers who spoke to The Post did not keep paper records of the extra hours they said they worked.
But Juarez was among nearly 30 former employees at Trump’s golf courses in New York who met with prosecutors in February. They handed over pay stubs and W-2 forms and answered questions about their salaries, hours, tips and lack of benefits in one-on-one interviews over many hours, according to several workers. Some have follow-up meetings scheduled in coming weeks.
“They were focused on the payments,” Gabriel Sedano, who worked in maintenance at the club for 14 years, said of the prosecutors. “The days they paid us. The extra hours they didn’t pay us. The tips.”
…Former workers say getting hired was easy. Applicants could purchase fake green cards and Social Security numbers along Roosevelt Avenue in Queens that their bosses would place on file and generally not mention again. Nearly all employees interviewed say they are certain that their bosses knew their papers were fraudulent but hired them anyway.
On the job, however, things became more difficult. Employees without legal status often worked at the club for years on hourly wages that they said barely budged upward. They felt blocked from promotion opportunities, they said, and generally received no health insurance, retirement benefits or vacation days. Many said the company shaved hours off their paychecks.