From Chinese Progression Association Boston Newsletter Summer 2010
Interview with Mr.H
Q: Why and how did you come to the US?
A: I couldn't make a living in Tianjin, China anymore. Every month I made about 300 RMB delivering sand and rocks for a factory. In 1992 the factory closed, and I was out of a job. I then borrowed money from friends and relatives to buy a taxi. But I couldn't make a living.
My friends kept saying how good it was in America. I sold my taxi and borrowed money from friends to hire a snakehead to help me come over to the United States in 2000. I spent 11,000 RMB to come over. I have to support my parents in China. My father is over 70 and has health problems. There is no one to take care of my parents, but I cannot go back to China because I do not have documents. I have no family here, and it is lonely.
Q: Tell us about your work here?
A: When I first arrived, I worked in the 88 Supermarket doing cleaning. It was very hard work. I worked from 5 pm to 12 mid¬night six days a week and made only $1400 per month. Because I wasn't making enough money, I left to go to work at a tofu factory in Dorchester. I lived at the factory. I earned $1800 a month. I worked from 8am to 6pm six days a week. When business got bad, I had to leave.
Q: What kind of workplace rights problems have you had?
A: In 2005 I started working at a construction company. I found the job through a friend. I earned $90 per day, working 9 hours a day doing hard labor. I worked there for over 2 years.
But in 2007 I injured my foot when I fell off a ladder. My foot was all purple, and I couldn't stand up. My co worker called the boss, and he came over to drive me to the hospital. At the hospital, I was told the bone was broken. I did physical therapy and also used Chinese medicines. I couldn't work for 5 months.
During this time, I didn't have any money. I borrowed money from friends. My boss still owed me unpaid wages. Each month my boss kept owing me wages. He would only give me $1000 per month, for example. At one point, my boss owed me $13,000 in back wages. He kept saying that he'd give me the money soon. To date, my boss still owes me $500 in wages.
My boss would sometimes hire Latino or African American workers, but he would never owe them money. He did it to me because I am undocumented. He treats other undocumented workers he hires this way too. If you are documented, your life is much better. It is really difficult to get documents these days.
Today, I can't walk properly on my left foot because of my injury. Despite my foot pain, I would still work sometimes because I have to eat and pay rent, but I would only get paid $60 a day because I can't do as much work.
Mr. S' story