A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Precedent-Setting Anti-Wage Theft Ordinance Within Houston's Reach

Low-wage workers, grassroots community organizations, and responsible businesses are together writing a historic chapter in the City of Houston’s development.  Beginning in late 2011, the Fe y Justicia Worker Center began building a coalition of organizations and responsible businesses – now 34 members strong – across the City of Houston to address the problem of wage theft and craft a sensible public policy solution.

On July 23rd, workers, grassroots organizations, people of faith, and community leaders joined forces at the City Council’s Public Safety Committee Hearing held in the Houston City Council Chambers to make the case that an anti-wage theft ordinance is sound public policy and a desperately needed matter of community-building and wellbeing.  This morning the Fe y Justicia Worker Center hosted a phone bank to call on Mayor Parker and City Council members to bring the proposed ordinance to a full Council vote in a timely manner and restore a level playing field for responsible businesses and ensure justice for victims of wage theft.

If passed, the proposed Anti-Wage Theft ordinance would suspend, revoke, or cancel City-issued licenses or permits of any business that fails to pay its employees their legally owed wages.

In the Houston area alone, more than 100 wage and hour violations occur every single week, affecting workers employed in multiple industries.  A recent report estimates that more than $753 million in wages are illegally withheld from low-wage workers in the Houston area each year.  All workers have the right to be paid for all the hours they work, to be treated fairly on the job, and to provide for their families with dignity.  Responsible businesses that pay fair wages and provide benefits to workers are undercut by companies who reduce their expenses by breaking the law.

Houston would be the first city in Texas and only the second major city in the southern part of the United States to pass an ordinance addressing wage theft.

Now the ordinance is in the hands of Houston City Council members who will vote on it soon, but it is in the hands of our community to make it happen.

The Down with Wage Theft Campaign is driven by a coalition of Houston community, faith, and labor organizations, responsible businesses, and individuals who believe in standing up for workers’ rights to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work in order to make Houston a just and prosperous place to work.  The campaign is spearheaded by the Fe y Justicia  Workers’  Center and supported by the coalition.  To learn more about the campaign, visit the Down With Wage Theft website.

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