WORKING EXTRA DURING MARDI GRAS? PROTECT YOURSELF & YOUR WAGES
NEW ORLEANS HOSPITALITY WORKER COMMITTEE (504) 657-3171
RESTAURANT OPPORTUNITIES CENTER (504) 529-5654
TakePart’s profile of the workers who came to help rebuild New Orleans 10 years ago and who remain, despite wage theft and discrimination. Their story is very much the heart of the Workplace Justice Project and the Wage Claim Clinic and is still an essential element of the landscape for low-wage workers in New Orleans.
“This first of its kind in New Jersey, the local law allows the city to deny the renewal of operating licenses, issued annually on December 1st, if any wage theft claims against the business are not resolved. Because a business cannot remain open without an operating license, the ordinance incentivizes not only adherence to federal and state standards for minimum wage and for overtime, but also settlement of any wage disputes in a timely fashion.” Read more about the case of Irene Lopez seeking unpaid wages of $5,000 from La Hacienda Grocery Store here.
“Nearly $1 billion was recovered in 2012 by lawyers or regulatory agencies acting on behalf of workers who were paid below minimum wage, not paid for overtime or other wage and hour violations, according to a first-time analysis conducted by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute. And the problem is growing, EPI analysts say.
Even with these efforts by lawmakers and labor groups, “I think wage theft is increasing,” said Ross Eisenbrey, vice president at EPI and one of the authors of the new study. “There really is not much state local or federal enforcement going on, particularly in the low-wage industries where you’re not going to get attorneys to bring those cases.”
“The money recovered is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Tsedeye Gebreselassie, a senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project. The EPI report says if the 2009 study were extrapolated to the entire country’s low-wage labor market, wage theft could cost workers more than $50 billion every year.
Read more from NBC News here.
“For workers stuck on the bottom rung, living on poverty wages is hard enough. But many also are victims of wage theft, a catch-all term for payroll abuses that cheat workers of income they are supposedly guaranteed by law. Over the last few years employers ranging from baseball’s San Francisco Giants to Subway franchises to Farmers Insurance have been cited for wage violations. More often, though, wage abuses are not reported by victims or punished by authorities despite being routine in some low-wage industries.
“‘If you steal from your employer, you’re going to be hauled out of the workplace in handcuffs,’ said Kim Bobo, a Chicago workers rights advocate and author. ‘But if your employer steals from you, you’ll be lucky to get your money back.’
“Victims typically are low wage, low-skilled workers desperate to hang on to their jobs. Frequently, they are immigrants—the most vulnerable and least apt to speak up. “They know that if they complain, there’s always someone else out there who is willing to take their job,” said Maria Echaveste, a former labor official during the Clinton administration who is now at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.”
This story was reported by Myron Levin, Stuart Silverstein and Lilly Fowler, and written by Levin. Read the very comprehensive piece here.
We will be presenting a workshop on Worker’s rights and wage theft prevention strategies as part of the NO/AIDS Taskforce’s Life Skills Series. The workshop will take place on:
Wednesday, July 25th from 11:00am-12:30pm at2601 Tulane Ave, 2nd Floor Conference room
All are welcome to attend!