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The Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition is a co-sponsor of AB 3075 (Gonzalez), a bill that prevents companies who don’t pay wage theft judgments from reopening under a new name to avoid paying what they owe. Thanks to our South Bay contingent including Ma Teresa Brillante who told her story so effectively and the organizations who signed letters and provided “me too” statements of support at the committee meeting including Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN), Day Worker Center of Mountain View, Somos Mayfair, LUNA – Latinos United for a New America, San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP, Fight for $15, Vietnamese American Roundtable, Maiz San Jose and PAWIS. #PayUpBeforeYouStartUp
For Immediate Release
May 19, 2020
Contact: Mike Roth, 916.813.1554
Maria Elena Jauregui, Spanish-language, 818.355.5291
Assembly Banking Committee Tells Unscrupulous Businesses:
“Pay Up Before You Start Up”
Passes AB 3075 to prevent wage theft as economy re-opens
Sacramento, CA — The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California today applauded the Assembly Banking Committee’s approval of AB 3075 (Gonzalez) by a more than 2-1 margin. The bill prevents companies who’ve exploited the global pandemic to cheat their workers from reopening under a new name to avoid paying what they owe their employees.
“Since March, workers across California – low-wage workers, workers of color, and immigrant workers, have been laid off and are still owed back pay; they must be paid every cent that is owed them. As our economy reopens, we must make sure to close the loopholes that allow the minority of unscrupulous employers to cheat workers,” said David Huerta, president of SEIU United Service Workers West and an SEIU California executive board member.
Wage theft occurs when bosses cheat workers out of hours worked, don’t pay the minimum wage or deny overtime pay. Employers use these tactics to steal an estimated $2 billion per year from their workers each year in California, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Workers like Tess and Luz Maria who work in low-wage jobs and workers who are Black, brown and API workers face higher levels of exploitation.
One reason just 17% of workers who’ve received a court judgment in their favor secure any repayment is that it is easy to simply close up shop and open under a new name. AB 3075 begins to remedy this by requiring anyone who wishes to incorporate to sign an affidavit attesting that they don’t have any outstanding wage judgments.
Too many businesses who closed up shop in the pandemic sent workers home without their last paychecks – and shouldn’t be allowed to re-open until those workers are made whole.
“We are struggling in my community and barely surviving,” said Rosa Lopez, a janitor from San Diego. “Any time a boss steals money from a low-wage worker, it’s hard – but now, in this pandemic, it is a catastrophe. Anyone who has stolen from workers should not be allowed to reopen under a new name.”
As a result of the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition’s advocacy and recommendations in its 2014 Wage Theft Report, The County of Santa Clara launched the Food Permit Enforcement Program, a new enforcement tool to help fight for worker rights and fair wages. The County’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) and the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) launched the Food Permit Enforcement Program, through which OLSE and DEH will exercise the County’s authority to suspend food permits from vendors with outstanding wage theft judgments. The new program is one of several efforts OLSE is implementing to address a pervasive problem that is disproportionately affecting vulnerable employees, many of them immigrants, women and low-wage workers.
See the 2014Wage Theft Report https://www.sccgov.org/sites/owp/econ-adv/Documents/wage-theft-report-final-2014.pdf
As a result of the advocacy of the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition, on March 20, 2018, Milpitas City Council adopted Ordinance No. 295 establishing a City-wide Wage Theft Policy. Now the City of San Jose, Sunnyvale, Milpitas, and Morgan Hill all have wage theft policies and ordinances.
The City of Milpitas issued the following press release which states in part:
“All businesses in the City of Milpitas which are required to have a business license are subject to the new wage theft ordinance.”
The new ordinance gives the City the ability to revoke or suspend the business license of any employer who refuses to pay their final court order or administrative action when found by a Local, State or Federal agency in violation of wage or hour laws. Without a business license an employer would effectively not be able to operate in the City of Milpitas.
The Wage Theft Coalition tabled at the Day Worker Center of Mt. View’s Resource Fair on November 17, 2019.