Worker wage theft targeted by Dems
In an attempt to curtail wage theft on the national level, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have introduced the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act, which would enhance existing protections as well as add new tools to fight the wage theft epidemic.
If adopted - highly unlikely in the Republican Congress - the bill would stiffen penalties for wage violators and allow employees to seek triple the amount they are owed in damages, plus interest. The bill also proposes new penalties for violating the minimum wage, not keeping proper records, and being a repeat offender.
“Too many people across the country go to work every day to support themselves and their families only to have their bosses cheat them out of their hard-earned pay," Murray said. "This bill would help even the playing field for the vast majority of businesses that are treating their workers fairly, and it would empower more workers by making sure their paychecks reflect the hours and hard work they put in on the job.
An Economic Policy Institute study from September of 2014 showed the wage theft epidemic as a leading factor in keeping low-wage workers from post-recession economic recovery. In 2012, the EPI reported $933 million was paid in back wages for wage theft violations in 44 states, with six states not reporting.
"Compare that," the EPIS says, "to the less than $350 million stolen in all robberies, including from banks, residences, stores, and on the street in 2012. That’s not just the figure for those that were solved, but for any robbery simply reported to the police."
The bill is expecting fierce opposition from pro-business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and obstructionist Republicans.
“When bosses don’t pay their workers what they’re owed, it robs them of money they earned for their hard work and hurts businesses that play by the rules," Brown said. " It’s shameful that employers are reaching into the pockets of low-income workers who have bills to pay and families to feed. We must create a system where employers who steal wages are held accountable and workers have the tools they need to recover their wages when they’ve been cheated.”
The bill’s co-sponsor, Senator Brown, added:
“When bosses don’t pay their workers what they’re owed, it robs them of money they earned for their hard work and hurts businesses that play by the rules. It’s shameful that employers are reaching into the pockets of low-income workers who have bills to pay and families to feed. We must create a system where employers who steal wages are held accountable and workers have the tools they need to recover their wages when they’ve been cheated.”
Career expo slated March 30 in Grayling
A building trades career expo will be held from 1-5 p.m. Wednesday, March 30 at the Eagles Club of Grayling, 602 Huron Street, Grayling.
Representatives from the trades will be on hand to discuss job opportunities and apprenticeships in the construction trades. Candidates with a full range of work experience, from an unskilled to skilled labor backgrounds, are welcome.
Representatives from union trades who are slated to be on hand include the IBEW, Bricklayers, Roofers and Waterproofers, Laborers, Carpenters and Millwrights, Sheet Metal Workers, Iron Workers, Painters and Glaziers, Operating Engineers and Plumbers and Pipe Fitters.
The event is sponsored by the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, Helmets to Hardhats and Michigan Works! Call (989) 348-8709 for more information.