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Encourage Private Action Against Wage Law Violators

Wage Law Enforcement State Trend: Illinois Becomes Most Recent State to Crack Down on Wage Theft

A crime wave has been sweeping Illinois, with surveys of low-wage workers in the Chicago area showing an average of 146,300 cases of wage theft each week -- resulting in about $7.3 million each week in unpaid wages, or $380 million stolen from workers each year.  In order to crack down on this criminal wage theft, the Illinois General Assembly on May 3 nearly unanimously (56-0 in the Senate and 112-1 in the House) passed SB 3568, which will strengthen the state’s ability to enforce violations of the Wage Payment and Collection Act.

Protecting Workers Rights by Stopping Misclassification as Independent Contractors in Maryland

Earlier this month, the Maryland legislature joined a number of states in cracking down on worker misclassification by enacting the Maryland Workplace Fraud Act (S 909 / H 819 ) which has the support of Gov. O'Malley who is expected to sign the bill shortly.  The main focus of the bill was stopping the misclassification of workers as "independent contractors" used by employers to deny them a minimum wage, overtime and key workplace benefits.

Overview

To supplement often under-funded public enforcement and legal services agencies, states can also encourage unions and other workers' advocates to help bring legal actions against wage law violators.  

  • Laws can be modeled on California's Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act, which allows present and former employees to collect not only damages for unpaid wages, but also twenty-five percent of the civil penalties that are normally paid to the state as well.
  • San Francisco's city minimum wage ordinance authorizes community groups and unions to file complaints without having to show that the workers not being paid are their members.
  • A number of states give outside labor advocates access to non-work areas of employer property to educate employees on their rights. Massachusetts, California(see §20900 of the CA Agricultural Labor Relations, Solicitation by Non-Employee Organizers regulations) and a few other states give farmworker advocates access to agricultural fields; states including California, Colorado and New Jersey require mall owners to give union organizers, as well as others, access to sidewalks, parking lots and interior public spaces.

New PSN Report: The Anti-Immigrant Movement that Failed

Today, the Progressive States Network is releasing a new report: The Anti-Immigrant Movement that Failed: Positive Integration Policies by States Still Far Outweigh Punitive Policies Aimed at New Immigrants.   The Executive Summary is available online, as well as the full report in PDF and HTML format.

State Immigration Project: Policy Options for 2009

Download a copy of the reports in PDF format here.  View the HTML version of the report here.