Taking Action on Wage Theft‏

February 18th, 2014

Dear ROP Immigrant Fairness Network,

This week the Coalition to Stop Wage Theft has been active at the Capitol.  Workers have testified and ROP Board and Latino Advisory Board Members have met with legislators – all to keep the issue of Wage Theft in the forefront this session.  Many of you, over the last few years, have taken part in actions, made calls to legislators and taken action on this issue.

We asked our friends at the Wage Theft Coalition to put together a simple call script and background information for those of you who can’t easily travel to Salem, but find this issue particularly close to your heart.

Below is a short call script – use it as is or modify it. You will also find some background information on Wage Theft.  The call only takes a few minutes and helps keep this issue on the radar of legislators.

Warmly, Cara

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Sample Call Script

Find your legislator and contact information here: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/FindYourLegislator/leg-districts.html

Hello.  My name is __________________ and I am a member of the Rural Organizing Project and (insert your local group name here).

The Rural Organizing Project is working to stop a large and growing problem in Oregon.  That problem is wage theft.

Wage theft occurs when employers pay workers less than the minimum wage, don’t pay time-and-a-half for overtime hours, cheat on the number of hours paid, steal tips or don’t pay workers at all.

Wage theft hurts not only workers.  It also hurts communities robbed of local spending, taxpayers because taxes are not collected on unpaid wages, and good employers forced to compete with employers who don’t follow the law.

Strengthening our state laws, providing new legal tools to workers, and making all employers liable for wage theft will reduce wage theft in Oregon.  Please contact your legislative representatives and urge them to support new laws and to strengthen enforcement of present laws.  This will reduce wage theft in Oregon .

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What is Wage Theft

Wage theft is not paying workers for some or all of their work.   It happens when employers:

  • pay less than the minimum wage,
  • don’t pay time and half for overtime,
  • force employees to work ‘off the clock’ or pay them in cash,
  • issue paychecks that bounce,
  • steal tips,
  • deny legally required meal and rest breaks, and
  • don’t pay workers at all.

Wage theft also occurs when employees are misclassified as independent contractors.  Then the minimum wage and overtime pay requirements do not apply.  In addition, workers are barred from employment protections and basic benefits such as worker compensation and unemployment.

Wage theft is a key factor in “Income Inequality.”  The middle class is disappearing.  The U.S. has lost millions of mid-wage jobs and replaced them with low-wage jobs where wage theft is common.  In addition, wage theft lowers the base pay for all.

What are the results of Wage Theft

  • Workers who are not paid for their labor cannot pay the rent or buy food.
  • Communities are robbed of local spending.
  • The pay of other workers drops.
  • Taxpayers and states lose money  because taxes can’t be collected on unpaid wages.
  • Law abiding employers who pay living wages can’t compete against the cheats who do not pay their workers.

How common is Wage Theft

  • Nationally more than two-thirds of low wage workers in three major US cities reported wage theft in the previous work week.
  • In Oregon, workers have filed nearly 9900 wage claims with BOLI in a six year period.  And this is only the tip of the iceberg, because a small percentage of victims of wage theft file claims.

 

 

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