En Español Know Your Rights
Source: Crain's New York Business
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

New Bill Aims to Protect Worker Pay

 

Politicians and union executives gathered in front
of trendy retailer Scoop’s SoHo outpost Friday
morning to announce a new state bill designed to uphold fair wage practices for
all New Yorkers.


“Wage theft not only hurts hardworking families
who are trying to make ends meet in this difficult economy, but also hurts New York state
taxpayers,” said state Sen. Diane Savino, who is a sponsor of the bill, along
with state Rep. Carl Heastie. The bill amends New York labor law by increasing penalties
for wage law violations, such as failure to pay minimum wage and overtime, and
increasing protection for workers who come forward to complain.


About 30 people were present on Friday, including
members of the Coalition to Prevent Wage Theft & Protect Responsible
Businesses, comprised of activist groups such as
Make the Road New York, small businesses and
low-income workers. Wage theft losses equal more than $18.4 million a week—or
$1 billion a year—according to the coalition.


The group chose Scoop as the conference site
because of the store’s history with workers. Last July, a group of employees
filed a $500,000 lawsuit alleging failure to pay overtime, unlawful termination
and discrimination. The suit has not yet been settled.


“New
York
has become a free-fire zone for the abuse of low
wage workers,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail Wholesale and
Department Store Union, at the press conference. “This vital piece of legislation
must be passed now,” he added.


Also in attendance Friday was Modesto Toribio, an
immigrant worker who has spent six years as a cashier at a Brooklyn
shop where she says she makes less than the $7.25 minimum wage. She explained
that she initially made $5 an hour and still makes only $6.60. The announced
legislation aims to change that type of practice.