As we have witnessed over the years, unscrupulous employers have found ways to steal workers wages through different forms of wage theft: not paying overtime at time and a half, paying less than the agreed amount or paying less than minimum wage, or just simply not paying. Across the nation, billions of hard earned wages have been stolen using these tactics.
While we continue to do direct action, one of the ways to combat this epidemic systemically is through legislation. To “prove” that these kind of things really happen on a repeated basis, New Labor members and Unity Square, a community organization, spearheaded community surveys in mid 2013. To follow up, we then collected over 1,000 signatures of support to create a municipal ordinance that could potentially make many city employers a renewal of their business license if they owe their workers wages.
Members and their children provided testimony at city council meeting over many months in 2013, with New Labor routinely bringing at least 30 member and their families to city council meetings.
After many months of testimony, the New Brunswick City council finally passed a resolution in November 2013 calling on the state government all municipalities to be able to punish businesses guilty of wage theft in municipal court. There was also a commitment to following through with the ordinance by the New Year.
And in fact at New Brunswick City Council’s meeting December 18, 2013, New Brunswick did pass the ordinance! It went into affect on January 1, 2014. Stay tuned as we begin to escalate: many business licenses are up for renewal in March and it’s quite possible that some may not be in compliance with the new ordinance. ¡Si se pudo!