MN Legislators Propose Wage Theft Bill
2/11/14 – Today a bill was introduced in the Minnesota legislature that would support workers who face cases of wage theft. Several CTUL members participated in a press conference with the Minnesota AFL-CIO talking about their experiences with wage theft, and how they have been leaders in the movement to fight against wage theft. See below for our statement at the press conference…
- “Legislation would ensure workers are paid what they earn,” Barb Kucera, WorkDay Minnesota, 2/11/15
Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) is a low-wage worker led organization that fights for fair wages, fair working conditions, and a voice in the workplace for all workers in the Twin Cities. Over the past seven years of organizing, CTUL has partnered with hundreds of low-wage workers to recover over $1.6 million in cases of wage theft.
Millions of workers around the country struggle to survive every day on sub-poverty wages. This reality becomes even more difficult because of the overwhelming prevalence of wage theft. A recent study in major metropolitan areas found that 68% of workers in low-wage industries had experienced some form of wage theft the previous workweek, and that low-wage workers lose on average $2,634 annually due to wage theft.
Think about that for a second. According to the US Census Bureau, the poverty threshold for a family of four in 2012 was $23,492. A minimum wage worker in Minnesota makes around $16,000 per year working full-time hours. Now subtract $2,634 in wage theft. How are you going to survive?
Let’s look at a local example involving a company that is contracted to clean stores like Best Buy, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls– Kellermeyer Bergenson’s Services (KBS). In many cases KBS sub-contracts out cleaning work to other companies that hire the workers to clean stores. Within a one-year period, 26 workers at 5 different KBS sub-contractors approached CTUL in 17 different incidents with complaints of wage theft that add up to well over $17,000! In one incident, when one of the workers asked about her unpaid wages, her supervisor head-butted her husband, sending him to the hospital (show picture if possible). And these are just the cases of workers who came forward with complaints.
There is a crisis happening and something needs to be done. Large stores like Best Buy and TJ Maxx pit dozens of cleaning companies against each other to get the lowest bid without considering the consequences to workers. The law needs to change to hold all of the companies that profit from this system accountable.