Cornell touts app to help illegal immigrants fight 'wage theft'

A preliminary version of the app was launched in November, but developers plan to make changes and improvements after the pilot program ends this fall.

The Workers Institute at Cornell University has been assisting with the development of a mobile app intended to help day laborers--many of them illegal immigrants--report "wage theft" and register workplace complaints.

The Worker Institute at Cornell University recently touted its role in developing a mobile app to help illegal immigrant day laborers report “wage theft” and register workplace complaints.

Though the JORNALER@ App was first released in November, it was recently showcased at the New York City Council’s Rapid Response Lab by Worker Institute research specialist Legna J. Cabrera and Manuel Castro, executive director of New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE).

The app is specifically geared toward day laborers—many of them illegal immigrants—allowing them to rate employers, report their wages, and post pictures of unsafe job sites, The New York Times reported last year after the app’s soft launch.

In addition, JORNALER@ also offers an alert system that allows workers to anonymously inform each other about bad employers and worksites, which its developers hope will encourage activism not only among day laborers, but throughout the ranks of the working class.

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The Worker Institute’s role “primarily consisted of hosting and facilitating forums for worker center leaders and members to develop the content for the application,” according to Worker Institute Director of Labor and Policy Research Maria Figueroa.

NICE, meanwhile, offers to contact employers—and when necessary hire lawyers—in response to reports of unfair wages, and also hosts “Know-Your-Rights” clinics for workers.

"This digital inclusion is elevating activists to new levels as they are increasingly using the technology of today to send out a message and organize communities that are under attack," said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who hosted the Rapid Response Lab event.

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Figueroa explained that once the pilot program concludes this fall, the Worker Institute will collaborate with NICE to improve the content and dissemination of the app, after which there will be a conference in Spring 2018 where “groups from around the country will share their experiences with JORNALER@ and similar technology.”

Campus Reform reached out to NICE for comment, but did not receive a response.

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