Houston is America's forth largest city with a population a little more than two million people. Some of Houston residents are taking their concerns about unscrupulous employers in the city who stealing wages from workers to the city council. The Down with Wage Theft campaign driven by coalition of different community member from faith to labor and businesses are working together to stand up against wage theft.
The IWJ affiliated worker center in Houston, Fe y Justicia, is spear-heading the Wage Theft Campaign. Fe y Justicia created community support through rallies, collecting petition signatures, visiting council members around issues of wage theft and workers' rights to forefront of the conversation in city. The measure has gone to the city council committee hearing to help create and build a zero tolerance for wage theft. The campaign is working to urge the Houston City Council to pass an ordinace at the city-level for employers caught committing wage theft to be ineligible for city contracts.
The anti-wage theft ordinance is expected to come up for a vote on Nov. 13. In a radio report, Laurie Johnson, the Houston host for All Things on KUHF NPR on Houston said this about the anti-wage ordinance:
Any employer convicted or, or assessed an administrative penalty for, wage theft would be ineligible for city contracts. Furthermore, the city could refuse to grant any necessary permits and operating licenses to that company for two years following that conviction.
Fe y Justicia is hoping to continue to get widespread support for the ordinance. In a recent report about Wage Theft in Houston estimated that $753.2 million dollars are lost every year due to wage theft among low-wage workers. The resounding affects hurts local communities, families and other businesses when workers are short-changed. Some of the short-changed has left families unable to pay rent, utilities or to fulfill their basic necessities.
If the anti-wage theft ordinance passes, Houston would be the first city in Texas and the 2nd major metropolis in the U.S. South that would create consequences for employers who legally failed to pay their employees what they are legally owed to them.
Photo Courtesy of Fe y Justicia Worker Center