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Know Your Rights
Source: Make the Road New York
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Event

MRNY’s Landmark Wage Theft Prevention Act Takes Effect

MRNY members celebrate the signing of the Wage Theft Prevention Act.

This Saturday, MRNY’s innovative new piece of legislation, the Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) goes into effect. This comprehensive new State law marks an enormous victory for workers throughout New York.

The practice of wage theft is used by disreputable employers to cut costs for their businesses by flouting employment laws that mandate minimum wage and overtime pay. Until now, there have been such minimal penalties for this practice that many employers have considered it good business sense to pay well below the minimum wage – sometimes as low as $2 or $3 per hour for an 80 hour work week with no overtime pay.

Tomorrow, when the WTPA takes effect, all workers in New York State will have the law behind them when they stand up for their rights. Together, we will make wage theft history.

In 2010, MRNY drafted the WTPA and led a strong community-labor coalition to pass the bill, which was signed by Governor Paterson in December. The law increases penalties for unlawful employers, establishes firm protections for workers who stand up for their rights, and it gives the Department of Labor stronger tools to investigate cases and ensure that workers are paid the money they are owed.

Modesta Toribio

MRNY member Modesta Toribio

MRNY Member Modesta Toribio, who advocated for the passage of the WTPA, said, “Sometimes a boss might tell you, ‘The economy is so bad, I cannot pay you,’ but if a business does not follow this most basic law and pay workers at least the minimum wage of $7.25, then it does not deserve to be in business.”

Read more recent coverage in the New York Daily News (page 2) and The Huffington Post.

MRNY wishes to express our deepest appreciation for our hard-working friends and allies who made this tremendous victory possible:

State Senator Diane Savino, Assemblyman Carl Heastie, UFCW Local 1500, Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, Working Families Party, SEIU Local 32BJ, New York State AFL-CIO, New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, 1199 SEIU, Laborers International Union, Mason Tenders PAC, New York Communities for Change, Drum Major Institute, NYCOSH, New York Jobs with Justice/Urban Agenda, Hispanic Federation, NYS Stimulus Alliance, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Council Member Mark-Viverito, Council Member Lander, Council Member Chin, State Senator Peralta, State Senator Stavisky, State Senator Sampson, State Senator Martin Dilan, Assemblymember Jeffries, Assemblymember Lancman, Assemblymember Aubry, Assemblymember Kavanagh, Assemblymember Nolan, Assemblymember Gottfried and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, National Employment Law Project, New York State Trial Lawyers Association, Outten and Golden LLP, Urban Justice Center-Community Development Project, Workers Rights Law Center, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, MFY Legal Services, Inc., Legal Aid Society, Morton Williams Supermarkets and Small Business United.