Wage Theft Issue Brought Before Houston City Council

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The issues of Wage Theft and payroll fraud were highlighted in Houston, Texas last week when two leaders on the issues spoke before the Houston City Council.  This was part of the effort to garner support against those contractors and business owners who continue to cheat their workforce by not paying them overtime, benefits or by misclassifying them as Independent Contractors and not paying unemployment insurance, federal income taxes or medical benefits.

Kim Bobo, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice and author of the book Wage Theft in America, and Stan Marek, CEO of the Marek Family of Companies based in Houston, aimed a shining a bright light on those abuses with their testimonies, and made the Council members aware of how Wage Theft can occur on their construction projects even though they might not be aware of it.

Cindy Gutowski, a worker in the floral industry, testified about her losses when she was defrauded of overtime pay.  Kim Bobo testified about how widespread the issue is across the United States in a number of businesses, and Stan Marek spoke of the impact of the issue on the construction industry in Houston and around Texas.  They each spoke of losses of wages, competitiveness and taxes and how those actions were damaging to workers, their families and our communities.

The Council testimony was followed by a rally on the steps of City Hall to further illustrate and protest against Wage Theft and Payroll Fraud in hopes that the testimony and action would lead to a Council resolution and that the City would join in the effort to eliminate wage theft.  One of the council members, Wanda Adams, presented a proclamation against wage theft and joined the effort to make Houston a city where Wage Theft and Payroll Fraud are not an accepted practice.  You can read more about the rally and see more pictures from that day on the Down With Wage Theft Campaign website.

This is the beginning of an effort to pass a law against misclassification and wage theft in the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature in January of 2013.

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