Impact on Immigrants Is Focus of NLRB Chief

Article excerpt

U.S immigration laws often work in extreme tension, with federal workplace regulations, thwarting attempts to seek justice for abused immigrant and refugee workers, the chairman of the National Labor Relations Board told a local audience Thursday.

Mark G. Pearce, a founding partner of the Ceighton, Pearce, Johnsen & Giroux law firm in Buffalo, was the guest speaker at a forum at Vive La Casa, a nonprofit humanitarian group assisting refugees seeking protection in the United States and Canada since its founding in 1984.

The NLRB, which was established in 1934 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is empowered to investigate and remedy unfair labor practices. Pearce was named chairman of the agency by President Obama in 2011.

"We thought it would be very appropriate for [Pearce] to come to Vive, because Vive has the new Buffalo. Most of the refugees that come through here seeking asylum in this country decide that they want to stay here, in Western New York," said Angela Jordan Mosely, executive director of Vive La Casa.

"So it's critical that they understand what the rules and the laws are, and how important it is for them to know that when an employer hires them, they still have to follow certain labor laws," Mosely added.

Pearce said a 2002 Supreme Court decision prevents the NLRB from pursuing punitive damages against an employer on behalf of undocumented workers, leaving such workers vulnerable to abuse. …