Workers Press for Bill to Assist Wage Theft Victims
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
NEW YORK - Now that New York has approved a hike in the minimum wage, labor advocates want to be sure workers can collect what they're owed.
Wage theft - the failure to pay workers what they earn - is still a common problem. Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched a major campaign to prosecute employers who don't pay, but Sarah Ahn, an organizer with the Flushing Workers Center, said winning a judgment isn't always enough.
"The employers have become very good at transferring their assets, closing down their shops, opening up under a new name, using these tactics to never pay these judgments," she said.
A bill called the Secure Wages Earned Against Theft (SWEAT) Act, now in the state Legislature, would give workers new ways to force employers guilty of wage theft to pay up.
A study done last year found that judgments against employers totaling more that $125 million have not been paid. According to Ahn, passing the SWEAT Act would help.
"What our bill is primarily seeking to do," she said, "is give workers more tools that will allow them to use different legal mechanisms to hold the assets of an employer."
The bill would allow workers to file personal liens against business owners, and the state to place liens on property and on the shareholders of limited liability companies to recover back wages.
While the newly passed increase in the state minimum wage is being hailed as a victory for workers, Ahn said there still is more work to do.
"Even with these increases, it's not a reality for many workers," she said, "so I think it's time that the state and our legislators really take action to make these laws enforceable."
She said the bill may come up for a vote soon in the state Assembly and is picking up a growing number of sponsors in the Senate.
The text of the bill is online at nysenate.gov.
get more stories like this via email
2022 was a banner year for women elected as governor. Nearly one-third of America's governors will be women next year, which is a record. Iowa …
Residential water rates in Michigan are soaring, with an estimated one out of ten households without access to or unable to afford clean water…
Fracking is a very water-intensive industry, and a new study dives into the impact of unconventional oil and gas drilling on aquatic ecosystems in …
A Bellingham man who supports people with dementia has received one of the most prestigious awards for volunteerism in Washington state. The …
Native American tribal communities and conservation groups got a big win Wednesday as President Joe Biden announced he intends to create a new nationa…
A decision could come today on Nevada's bid to become the first state in the nation to hold a Democratic primary in 2024. The Democratic National …
Snow is on the ground in much of Minnesota, but the state is coming off another warm season with notable drought conditions. Those who monitor …
By Ray Levy Uyeda for Yes! Magazine.Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Greater Dakota News Service reporting for the Solutions Journalism Network-…