Sunday, February 5, 2012

IRS Revokes Tax Exempt Status For Esperanza Unida Inc. And Loses State Day Care License

Robert Miranda

Job training agency struggling to stay financially fit under executive director Miranda.

By H. Nelson Goodson
February 5, 2012

Milwaukee - On Saturday, JSonline (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) reported that Ezperanza Unida, Inc., 611 W. National Ave. had lost its Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax exempt status and a state day care license. The IRS automatically revoked the federal tax exempt status because the agency run by executive director Robert Miranda hadn't filed financial information forms for 2009, 2010 and 2011 as required by federal law.
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development also revoked Ezperanza's day care license for not paying about $104,000 in workers compensation for 2009, 2010 and 2011, according to JSonline. The state issued tax warrants totaling more than $104,000.
Miranda explained to JSonline, that the agency experienced a flood last year and tax filing records were destroyed. Miranda says, they are now working with the IRS to regain their tax exempt.
In the last three years under Miranda's leadership, the agency has faced allegations of bounced payroll checks and had fired several employee's for complaining about non-payment. The employees filed a labor complaint against both Miranda and Esperanza. 
Esperanza a jobs training agency has 13 employees left at the agency and reported that it had graduated seven welders and several mechanics on Friday, JSonline reported.
Miranda's salary totals $48,000 per year and hasn't had a raise, since he took over the agency in 2005. As executive director, Miranda has kept Esperanza Unida afloat and operating in the last seven years.
Miranda tried to create a multi-million welding program partnership between Esperanza Unida, Bucyrus, Inc. and Milwaukee Area Technical College (M.A.T.C.), but he failed to worked with two Hispanic Board members Pedro Colón and Attorney Peter Earl in 2009. The welding project was rejected by the M.A.T.C. Board. Weeks later, Bucyrus CEO Tim Sullivan sent out a letter saying that Bucyrus didn't need the welders as previously planned, saving M.A.T.C. millions. Miranda continued to blame both Colón and Earl for the misfortune.
In 2007, Miranda led and helped establish a sister city economic agreement between Turkey and Milwaukee. Five months ago, Miranda lost an employee related complaint dealing with payroll issues. Both Jose Toledo and Nydia Millan had filed a complaint with Voces de la Frontera (VDLF) about not getting paid in time. VDLF in the complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleged that Miranda terminated both Toledo and Millan in November 2010 for complaining about not getting paid and receiving payroll checks that bounced.
Miranda fired both employees citing a confidentiality clause, but NLRB found that the clause was meant to protect trade or product secrets and not to bar employees from complaining about work related issues as payroll. He settled the case on April 27, 2011 by agreeing to reinstate both employees and pay Toledo in back pay wages with interest totalling $15,000 and Millan $7,371. Toledo had worked in Esperanza Unida for five years as a mechanic instructor, Millan had worked as a day care instructor, according to the NLRB case records.
In July 2008, about 20 Esperanza Unidad employees signed a petition against Miranda claiming they weren't getting paid in time.
In July 2011, Miranda wrote an article in support of SB 137 which penalizes employers with $10,000 fine for each undocumented immigrant that they knowningly hire in Wisconsin. It also prevents employers from qualifying for tax credits or state funded projects. In the article published in both the Spanish Journal and BizTimes dot com, Miranda wrote,  that "the state should enforce ban on hiring illegal immigrants," which drew criticism from the Latino south side immigrant community.
"To just come forward to say that SB 137 is “divisive” indicates lazy research and innate ignorance of the issue of undocumented immigration. Turning a blind eye to undocumented workers, as U.S. immigration authorities have done, harms U.S. citizens, documented immigrants and the undocumented," Miranda wrote.
State bill SB 137 was introduced by state Senate Democrats, Dave Hansen, Robert Wirch, Jon Erpenbach, Jim Holperin and Tim Carpenter, including one State Representative Tony Staskunas (co-author).

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