Combating Wage Theft in Contingent Labor: 2011 Proposed Legislation

Employment laws today are failing to protect the basic workplace rights of all Oregon’s workers. Wage theft has become a common practice in many low-wage industries in Oregon and nationwide—a recent study of low-wage workers in three major US cities found that more than two-thirds of workers had suffered wage theft in the previous work week, including pervasive minimum wage and overtime violations.

This Legislative session we are seeing progress with two pieces of legislation that strengthens protections for workers in the construction industry.  Download more information here:

SB 612-A Overview (pdf)

SB 612-A Action Information (doc) – phone and email script

Wage Theft Legislation Overview (doc)

Talking Points & FAQs (pdf)

Wage Theft Coalition Description (pdf)

Here’s a story from Antonio Sanchez, a day laborer and supporter of VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project: For a months work (210 hours) of pulling up and installing carpet and laminate in Portland and Clatskanie he got paid only $300.  He is owed over $2000.  It’s been two years and he’s only recovered a small fraction of this money.

It is no accident that wage theft is becoming increasingly common. Over the last three decades, a significant percentage of full-time jobs have disappeared. Employers are relying increasingly on “contingent” labor—labor that is contracted, temporary, or part-time. It is easier for employers to exploit workers in these less formal employment relationships, and it is often unclear who is liable for the exploitation that results.

Meg Niemi, President of SEIU local 49, testified "that wage law enforcement will ensure that there is a level playing field for honest employers, that proper enforcement of wage laws ensures that our community standards for wages and working conditions remain intact, and that, given our current budget crisis, enforcing wage and hour laws should help make certain that all Oregonians are paying their fair share in taxes."

Download a pdf overview on Oregon Wage Theft legislation

Download pdf of Oregon Wage Theft Fact Sheet

Join us at a Workers Regional Town Hall to discuss Wage Theft, share and listen to personal stories, and organize to stop wage theft in Oregon!

  • Mid Willamette Valley region, in Woodburn: Thursday, March 31, 2011 from 6-8pm at PCUN, 300 Young St, Woodburn, OR 97071
  • Portland Metro region, in Portland: Thursday, April 7, 2011 from 6:30-8pm at Waverly Heights United Church of Christ, 3300 SE Woodward St, Portland, OR 97202
  • Central Oregon region, in Redmond: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 from 6-8pm at Plumbers and Steamfitters local 290, 2161 SE 1st Street, Redmond, OR 97757.

Click here to share your story.

ROP and the Oregon Coalition to Stop Wage Theft are supporting a package of bills in Oregon’s 2011 legislative session that protect workers rights, hold construction labor brokers accountable, and help workers advocate for themselves.

You can view a summary of the bills, or read the text of each bill individually.

  • HB 2833/SB 610 Protect day laborers and temporary workers
  • HB 2834/SB 611 Standardize definitions of "employ" and related terms in Oregon law to hold employers accountable for wages
  • HB 2835/SB 612 Regulate construction labor brokers to prevent abusive employment practices
  • HB 2836/SB 727 Improve effectiveness of Construction Contractors Board in recovering unpaid wages
  • HB 2837/SB 624 Enhance the ability of workers to recover unpaid wages

The core idea of these bills is to strengthen the protection of contingent workers by holding end employers accountable for meeting legal standards for wages and working conditions and removing incentives to subcontract permanent jobs to abusive labor brokers.

Support low-wage workers and ethical employers by joining the following Oregonians in support of this important legislation: Northwest Workers’ Justice Project (NWJP), PCUN, Rural Organizing Project (ROP), Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP), VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project, and Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA), CAUSA, Portland Jobs with Justice, and SEIU Local 49

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