Earlier this year, the Rights Here Project spoke with construction worker Rafael. “We day laborers,” he said, “we are prime targets for cheats. There have been times when we are driven for miles, get threatened with arms, work hard through the day in demolition or asbestos removal, and then don’t get paid.”
According to the US Department of Labor, up to $1 billion is stolen from workers every year: either in unpaid wages, or when workers don’t receive the minimum wage, overtime wages, or payment for all the hours they have worked.
That’s why workers from construction and other industries like restaurants and nail salons rallied yesterday outside Governor Cuomo’s office in NYC calling on him to pass the SWEAT bill in to law.
The bill gives workers and the Department of Labor the tools to recover stolen wages, by putting a lien on the employers’ business or property until the conclusion of a court case or investigation. The bill passed the NY legislature and now awaits Cuomo’s signature. Even when workers do take action and win settlements for unpaid wages, employers often close up shop and register under a different name, or hide their assets. The SWEAT bill aims to stop them getting away with this.
At the rally, Adriana Escandón of the Workers Justice Project said: “El robo del salario es un crimen. Pero mas allá de un crimen es un atentado contra la humanidad de los trabajadores y las trabajadores”. “Wage theft is a crime. And more than that, it is an affront to workers’ humanity.”
El Diario: Op-ed by Ligia Guallpa y Adriana Escandón, Workers Justice Project, “Ruta Hacia la Justicia: No al Robo de Salario“
City Limits: “Workers await Gov’s action to make wage-theft dead-beats pay“