|News Spotlight: Lansing Workers' Center Recognizes Wage Theft
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
During a national week of action concerning wage theft, the Lansing Workers' Center, continues to empower workers to stand up for their rights. Since opening its doors last Labor Day, the Lansing Workers' Center and has been talking to workers about wage theft, unemployment claims, and everything in between. As an all-volunteer effort, workers'center members operate on the concept of mutual aid to create a sense of place for workers who do not have a union. As union density declines, more and more workers have to find new ways to build power not only in the work place, but also in their communities. All over the country this week, worker center members are standing up and saying no more wage theft.
While wage theft is not the only struggle workers face, it is one of the most common. Wage theft is the pervasive and illegal practice of not paying workers for all of their work. It includes violations of minimum wage laws; not paying time and a half overtime pay; forcing workers to work off the clock; workers not receiving their final paychecks; misclassifying employees as independent contractors to avoid paying minimum wage and overtime; and not paying workers at all.
Wage violations are common in what's left of the US apparel industry, construction, warehousing, retail, restaurants, and especially in sectors where workers are isolated, like home health care and domestic work.
Paying workers their legally owed wages would put billions of dollars back into the pockets of working families, money that would be spent in communities, stimulating local economies.
On September 29, Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) introduced the Wage Theft Prevention and Community Partnership Act (H.R. 6268), giving authority to the U.S. Department of Labor to fund programs targeted to prevent wage theft. This bill could help more workers' centers and grassroots efforts expand their education and outreach efforts to fight wage thefts. Contact the Lansing Workers' Center at (517) 371-2001 or by email at Lworkerscenter@gmail.com.