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40 Actions Taken across US to Stop Wage Theft
rom Grassroots to the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage Theft Campaign Moves Forward
Nationwide - November 25 - Wage theft has been called “the crime wave no one talks about,” but now that’s changing. Last Thursday, people in more than 40 cities around the country not only talked about the national crisis – one that annually robs millions of workers – but took a variety of concrete steps to combat it.
Workers, community organizers, public officials and religious leaders in communities from coast to coast stood together as part of the National Day of Action to Stop Wage Theft coordinated by the national network Interfaith Worker Justice.
- At the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, State Senator Sue Morano announced the Wage Protection Act, new legislation that would expand the Ohio state government’s enforcement capacity on wage violations;
- Miami-Dade County Commissioner Natasha Seijas and members of the South Florida Wage Theft Task Force decried the pervasiveness of wage theft in the region and announced a pending local ordinance to combat it;
- In Memphis, the Workers Interfaith Network released the results of a survey it conducted of local low-wage workers, 68 percent of whom reported not being paid for all the hours they’d worked;
- In Chicago, four Polish workers each owed over $10,000 by a contractor, together with religious leaders and organizers with the Arise Chicago Worker Center, announced a lawsuit for back wages at one of the contractor’s current work sites;
- A rally and press conference were held at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, workers and members of the clergy joined with the Workers’ Rights Center to demand both state and federal government measures to combat wage theft;
- At a press conference on Capitol Hill, Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) joined workers who have been cheated of their wages, religious leaders, and IWJ Executive Director Kim Bobo, whose 2008 book Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans Are Not Getting Paid—And What We Can Do About It exposed the national crisis and has become a rallying cry for the campaign to end it;
- Also in Washington, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced increased enforcement and outreach efforts in the department’s Wage and Hour Division, including a national public awareness campaign titled to inform workers about their rights. “We will not rest until the law is followed by every employer, and each worker is treated and compensated fairly,” Solis said in a statement. (For more actions around the country, see here.)
“A great deal of work remains to be done to stop wage theft, but Thursday’s National Day of Action was a watershed moment in this campaign,” says Bobo. Secretary Solis said she “will not rest until the law is followed by every employer, and each worker is treated and compensated fairly – and neither will we at Interfaith Worker Justice.”
“As we pause this Thanksgiving to remember all that we are thankful for, we also remember the workers across the nation whose wages are stolen and struggle to put a meal on their holiday table. We must put an end to this national scandal of wage theft,” says Thomas Shellabarger of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.