Working-Class Struggle

Three housekeepers and a day laborer take action against deadbeat employers who abuse immigrants

Loyola, meanwhile, is the group's soft-spoken voice of reason, explaining that he tries to come across as neutral in employer-worker disputes. "Julio's the good cop. I'm the bad cop. I'm always screaming, so Julio's the reasonable one who comes in" and talks reason to an employer, Ronen says. "Aside from strategizing about the cases, if we do any house visits or protests, Julio will plan those, too. Julio also walks the streets, to let them know about our clinic."

Loyola earned a business degree in Lima, Peru. His skills with a spreadsheet and knowledge of business strategy led La Raza Centro Legal two years ago to make him president of the $1.5 million-per-year nonprofit's board of directors. He still works installing closets and other day labor jobs, so he can continue sending money back home to his family.

He has also obtained work with the city's health department, publicizing city programs to prevent the spread of illnesses among recent immigrants. But he still makes a point of helping his comrades at the Workers' Advocacy Project obtain redress for exploited employees.

"They worked her 12 hours a day, sometimes more, browbeating her, calling her stupid," Loyola said, describing the treatment allegedly meted out to Serralta, the housekeeper who'd worked for the Khans in Atherton. "We want to make sure our voice gets heard."

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