From My Central Jersey:
One-hundred workers and advocates from community organizations, unions and faith-based groups participated Nov. 18 in a Day of Action against wage theft in New Brunswick, Newark and Lakewood.
Nationally, worker centers that are part of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ, iwj.org) network held action, as well.
Wage theft includes not getting paid for the work one does, getting paid overtime at a regular rate or less than 1.5 amount of workweek salary, getting paid less than the agreed amount, and/or payment under minimum wage. Billions of dollars in wages are stolen nationally each year.
New Labor organized teach-ins and marches to protest wage theft and called for statewide anti-wage theft legislation.
Locally, 50 workers and advocates participated in a march in New Brunswick to call attention to the issue of wage theft. They heard testimonials from workers who had recovered their unpaid wages through actions of New Labor at several establishments in the city.
“We just need to be paid for the work we do, plain and simple. We work to live (a) dignified life and we have families that depend on us,” said Reina Axalco, a member of New Labor.
“We all know, ‘Thou shall not steal.’ But some employers still don’t pay us anyway. That’s theft,” said Jonass Mendoza, a New Labor member.
Participants also called for passage of statewide legislation against wage theft (Bill A5072), which would:
- Allow workers to recover unpaid wages and as well as liquidated damages;
- Create stiffer penalties for employers that commit wage theft;
- Extend the statute of limitations for filing a complaint;
- Allow for license revocation if there are outstanding unpaid wage claims;
- Determine that client employers and labor contractors can be subject to joint and several liability for violations of wage and hour law, among other things.
“Wage theft is an epidemic. And we need to fight it and find a cure,” said New Labor member Reynalda Cruz.
New Labor is a membership-based organization of largely low-wage Latino workers that educates, organizes and fights for better working conditions. With the assistance of other community and statewide allies, it has helped pass six anti-wage theft ordinances in New Jersey. For more information, visit www.newlabor.org.
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