The Arizona Interfaith Alliance for Worker Justice,
a worker center in Phoenix, has seen a “huge spike” in wage theft --
violations of minimum wage laws -- since the passage of SB 1070,
Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. "Employers are even more brazen in their
mistreatment of workers," said Executive Director Trina Zelle in an interview with In These Times.
"Increasingly, 'Go ahead, try and make me pay you' is the response
workers hear when they confront their employers over unpaid wages."
On June 1, the New York Senate put the state in position to be first in the nation to enact a Domestic Workers' Rights law (S2311) by a vote of 33-28. The New York Assembly led the way in June 2009 when it passed its own version of the bill (A1470). This groundbreaking legislation will extend core labor rights, from fair labor standards to paid sick days, to creating a framework for collective bargaining, to domestic workers. This will include those employed to work in a private home to perform housekeeping and/or to care for children, the infirm, or the elderly.
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.
Washington state Governor Christine Gregoire signed a bill
to combat wage theft this week, adding Washington to a growing number
of states and counties, including Miami-Dade
County, cracking down on employers who underpay workers (many of
them undocumented immigrants) and violate minimum wage and overtime
Progressive States Network will be working with state leaders around the
country to promote policies to improve enforcement of minimum wage, overtime and
related wage laws in the states. This Dispatch will highlight the
chronic wage violations in the workplace, model wage law enforcement language
for states to promote, messaging to support those campaigns, and specific ways
such an approach has the added benefit of undercutting anti-immigrant attacks in
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.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson recently signed a wage enforcement bill (H 489)
to allow underpaid workers to collect their back wages plus twice that
amount in damages. The bill was backed by community groups and labor
unions as well as the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
New Mexico now becomes the eighth state that allows workers to collect
treble damages against employers violating the minimum wage — a key
deterrent to employers to ensure compliance with the minimum wage.