Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - July 20, 2018.  


Trump now wants Putin to visit the White House this fall; Also on the Friday rundown: health insurance rates to rise by almost 9 percent in California; and as the climate crises reaches “Zero Hour” young people take a stand.

Daily Newscasts

Wage Theft Takes Billions from Texas Workers and Communities

PHOTO: It's estimated as many as one-in-five workers in the Texas construction sector aren't paid the proper wages as required by law. Photo credit: Matthew Rutledge/Flickr.
PHOTO: It's estimated as many as one-in-five workers in the Texas construction sector aren't paid the proper wages as required by law. Photo credit: Matthew Rutledge/Flickr.
December 8, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas - It happens every month of the year, but the issue of wage theft in Texas is even more acute around the holidays, as impacted workers step up during the busy season but don't receive the pay they're due. Hector Guzman Lopez, coordinator with the Fuerza del Valle Workers' Center makes that case, and says wage theft comes in many forms. It can include not being paid the minimum wage, most noted among workers in the restaurant industry.

"Or you're not paid your overtime, which we find a lot of that in the warehouses that are importing, exporting goods," says Lopez. "Or the worst of its kind is when you get no pay at all. You work two, three weeks and the employer just tells you 'I will pay you later,' and that later never comes."

Lopez says in some sectors in Texas, as many as one-in-five workers are victims of some type of wage theft.

Lopez says while wage theft can happen to anyone, most at risk are undocumented workers and that's why efforts to raise awareness about employee rights are so critical.

"We need to educate more working people what institutions exist to make wage claims, to fight to recuperate your wages," he says. "We also need legislative action from our Congresspeople in Austin and D.C. to take this more seriously."

The City of Houston has already taken a stance with last year's adoption of an ordinance ensuring the city doesn't hire any companies involved in wage theft. A similar plan is now being considered in El Paso.

Lopez notes, most often the workers that are victims of wage theft are already living on the edge financially and this just pushes their families further into poverty.

"Not just families, also our communities," he says. "Less spending money for communities, for local markets, for the local economy. And our philosophy is very basic: If you work here, you should be paid what the law demands regardless of immigration status."

Nationwide, the Economic Policy Institute estimated workers may lose more than $50 billion in pay each year.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX