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Interfaith Worker Justice calls National Day of Action against Wage Theft

November 16, 2010

On Thursday, November 18, community groups across the U.S. will participate in the National Day of Action against Wage Theft, called by Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) to highlight the persistent and often invisible problem of wage theft.  Workers in many industries, and especially low wage jobs in the service sector, are often denied the wages they are promised and legally owed, whether due to minimum wage violations, nonpayment of overtime, being forced to work off the clock, or other illegal practices.  Enforcement of wage and hour law is particularly difficult due to informal work arrangements in such industries as construction, landscaping and housekeeping, where lack of legal residency, English proficiency or familiarity with the law puts largely immigrant workforces at a high risk of exploitation.  IWJ founder and director Kim Bobo estimates that as much as $19 billion dollars is stolen from American workers each year.

Rallies and press conferences will be held in over 30 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Boston, Denver, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Tucson, Austin, Santa Fe, Kalamazoo, Fayetteville, and Washington, DC.

The day of action comes shortly after the introduction of the Wage Theft Prevention and Community Partnership Act (H.R. 6268) in the House of Representatives by Congressman Phil Hare of Illinois.  The bill would expand enforcement of wage theft law as well as educational outreach by community organizations to bother employers and employees about wage-hour law, and have the Department of Labor establish a grant program to prevent wage theft.  Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis has already spoken out against wage theft and pledged to direct the DOL’s resources toward ending this abuse, though its Wage and Hour Division has long been understaffed and underfunded to tackle this problem.  IWJ is encouraging participants to call their representatives on November 18 in support of the bill.

Michael Paarlberg

Click here to see a video of the Washington, DC rally.

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