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Construction Workers Demand Rights

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Some Latino workers demanding rights picketed Wednesday near this construction site on Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast D.C.
Elliott Francis
Some Latino workers demanding rights picketed Wednesday near this construction site on Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast D.C.

The workers, who are predominantly Latino, claim Wings Enterprises Inc. ignores their rights.

Most of the workers speak no English and legal advocates for the group suggest that many of them were, until now, not be aware of their rights. If threatened with the loss of employment, they may be unwilling to stand up for them, attorneys say.

Walter Tejada, a member of the Arlington County Board, is among the coalition of advocates for the group. Tejada points out that Wings is a government contractor and may be in violation of federal regulations.

"What's really at stake here are government contracts that are supposed to have tough and tight criteria -- which needs to be honored -- and which is not being fulfilled," Tejada says.

In a statement released by the firm, Wings president Jean Wanner called the claims false and said, in part: "No government agency has found any significant workplace violations such as would merit debarment of our company from government work."

CORRECTION: The original photo caption said this site was closed by the workers' protest. The company says the site was fully operational. CORRECTION: The original version of this story incorrectly linked the protest to a 2010 National Labor Relations Board complaint against Wings Enterprises Inc. which was withdrawn as part of a settlement.

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