Unfortunately wage theft is a reality for too many hard working Americans. There have been stories of workers being ordered to “clock out,” and then being forced to work without pay. Others are working 60 hours a week but not receiving any overtime pay. Some are even more outrageous, like Mario Batali’s New York restaurants, which were caught skimming tips from workers in his restaurants.
The Employment Justice Center reports, “A 2008 survey of large cities found that 68% of low-wage workers experience wage theft in the prior week. Twenty-six percent are paid under the legal minimum wage and 76% are denied overtime.”
Workers are bringing their cases to the National Labor Relations Board and are continuing to win, but this process is very slow.
An employer stealing from workers has become a problem for the federal government as well.
“Last week, Good Jobs Nation filed a complaint with the Labor Department alleging wage theft by food vendors contracting with GSA [General Services Administration]. The group claims that eight franchises operating at the Reagan Building have paid employees less than the minimum wage and ignored rules on overtime pay.”
That is all about to change as the US House passed a new amendment that would forbid the US government from entering into contracts with any corporation that committed wage theft or other violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) pushed the amendment which failed in a previous vote a few weeks ago. Today the amendment passed unanimously.
“The House of Representatives stood up for federal contract workers today, protecting them from wage theft and ensuring the federal government will lead the way to fairer labor standards for all Americans,” stated Grijalva and Ellison. “No working American should ever worry that her employer might steal a part of her paycheck, especially if she works for a contractor paid by the federal government.”
Grijalva and Ellison continued, “Sometimes employers ask workers to show up 30 minutes before their shift starts, while others pay workers with debit cards that charge fees for every use. It doesn’t matter which form it takes—wage theft is wrong and it needs to stop.
“We’re glad our Republican colleagues joined the Progressive Caucus in this step to protect Americans working for federal contractors,” concluded Grijalva and Ellison.
In a Congress that is undoubtedly the worst Congress in history based on their total inaction, this is very good news for working families.