VICTORY FOR WORKERS!
Just Pay Cincy – CIWC campaign to stop wage theft
We did it! We passed the wage theft ordinance in one amazing week at City Hall. Ordinance Number 22-2016, Cincinnati’s Wage Enforcement Ordinance, is Ohio’s first attempt to confront wage theft at the local level.
The video for the Council hearing and vote on Wednesday, February 2nd is here: https://archive.org/details/10160203Coun. The Budget & Finance Committee advanced the ordinance out of committee on Monday, February 1st, largely due to testimony of new member Leopoldo Morales. The video is here: https://archive.org/details/11160201BFC_201602
On both days over 50 supporters attended, all wearing green arm bands. Speakers in support included members Leopoldo Morales, Ali, Manuel. Faith leaders such as Catholic Church (Tony Stieritz), The Episcopal Church (Rev. Robert Rhodes), AMOS congregations (Troy Jackson), Dominican Sisters (Monica McGloin), Labor and Civil Rights groups like Carpenters (Dave Meier), Black Lives Matter (Brian Taylor), Homeless Coalition (Josh Spring) and the Woman’s City Club (Susan Noonan). One business man (Leo Pierson) and one policy expert from Columbus (Policy Matters Ohio – Hannah Halbert).
Here is a collection of the News Media coverage.
Cincinnati Enquirer, February 4, 2016, Cincinnati First Ohio City to Pass Wage Theft Ordinance.
Victoria de Trajabadores, La Jornada Latina, Feb. 12, 2016
Cincinnatians For the American Dream, February 1, 2016, Cincinnati Wage Theft Ordinance Passes Committee
Cincinnati Business Courier, February 1, 2016, Council Takes Aim At Wage Theft
Cincinnati Enquirer, February 2, 2016, Organizers Support City Anti Wage Theft Proposal
Cincinnati anti-wage theft law is a model for Ohio, Policy Matter Ohio Blog, February 3, 2016
Here is a collection of radio interviews.
WVXU, 91.7AM, What Cincinnati’s Recently Enacted Wage Theft Ordinance Means, February 24, 2016
America’s Workforce Radio, February 11, 2016, Live on WERE, 1480 AM
Common Sense Radio, Feb.13, 2016: Victory! Ordinance with Stiff Consequences for Employers Committing Wage Theft
Campaign Overview : Just Pay Cincy – CIWC campaign to stop wage theft
Wage theft is the illegal withholding of wages that are rightfully owed to an employee. This can take the form of being paid less than the minimum wage, being shorted hours, being forced to work off the clock, not being paid overtime, or being misclassified as an independent contractor so that overtime requirements do not apply.
National research shows that 2 out of 3 low-wage workers experience wage theft. Low-income workers (earning less than $10 an hour) in the city lose over $52 million in wages each year to employer theft, according to a recent CIWC study. That is why we need a City of Cincinnati wage theft ordinance now. We are urging the City of Cincinnati to dedicate the resources necessary to truly confront wage theft, which is the most prevalent financial crime against working people in the state of Ohio. As Kim Bobo, executive director of the national Interfaith Worker Justice has written, “This is the crime that no one talks about.”
JUST PAY CINCINNATI is a local legislative campaign to fight wage theft for all who work in Cincinnati: black, brown, white, union, non-union, immigrant, native born, public sector, private sector, retail, service, industrial, and construction workers, and everyone in between.
Employers who misclassify workers may not be paying proper overtime compensation, workers’ compensation premiums and federal taxes that support workers. Employers regularly pay wages well below the legal minimum, in direct violation of Cincinnati’s Living Wage ordinance, demand long hours with no overtime, instruct workers to lie to labor investigators, and retaliate against those who seek to protect their rights. Retaliation keeps workers from speaking up. Employers often terminate employment, threaten to call immigration, and threaten to sue workers when workers complain of unlawful wages in an effort to silence them. The ordinance creates new avenues for victims of wage theft to bring forth claims, and for perpetrators to be denied city contracts, permits and licenses.
Low-wage and immigrant workers are frequently the victims of wage theft. A landmark 2009 study by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) of nearly 4,500 low-wage workers in three major cities found that more than 60 percent of low-wage workers have had some pay illegally withheld by their employer each week, equivalent to $2,634 per year, on average, in unpaid wages. In Cincinnati, it is documented that low-wage workers lose millions of dollars per year to wage theft.
Stolen wages often result in economic hardship for workers and their families. Missing a paycheck can have dramatic consequences as workers may have no other options than to seek out high-cost interest loans or forgo paying bills like rent, utilities, or car payments, which can quickly trap families into a never-ending cycle of debt and poverty. While low-wage workers are especially vulnerable, wage theft can and does occur in all industries and professions, as shown by the following recent Dept. of Labor recoveries in the city of Cincinnati: Walmart ($23,000); Sigma Capital ($111,455); Sterling Medical Corp. ($149,800); Triton Services ($5,724); Club Chef ($24,466); Dancing Wasabi ($38,494); Widmer’s ($34,522); Cincinnatian Hotel ($29,273.)
Wage theft does not just hurt workers. The Government Accountability Office found that independent contractor misclassification costs the federal government nearly $3 billion in unpaid payroll and income taxes and revenues each year. In addition, state and local governments also lose out on tens of millions of dollars annually that should be going towards unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation funds. To find out more about the Just Pay Cincy campaign, please contact the CIWC: at (513) 621-6991 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Just Pay Cincy’s Wage Theft Prevention Plan (Summary)
- Expose It: Convene a Task Force of stakeholders to share enforcement activity and generate a comprehensive list of city wage theft violators, to be shared with city prosecutors and procurement officials. Investigate how wage theft and payroll fraud reduces the city’s revenues.
- Stop It: Require city vendors to comply with wage laws; city procurement policy must consider wage law compliance as a “responsible business practice” under R.C. 125.25(A)(9) governing debarment of vendors. Wage theft is already a misdemeanor under state wage law (Ohio R.C. 4111.99); city prosecutors must work with Task Force members to identify and prosecute the worst offenders.
- Report It: Require employers applying for city licenses, permits, certifications, etc. to report all wage theft complaints and findings.
- Fine It: Require employers seeking a city license, certification, permit, or tax abatement to pay collateral assessment of at least $100.00 per wage theft victim.
- Answers To Frequently Asked Questions: Frequently Asked Questions, City of Cincinnati Wage Enforcement Ordinance
- Worker Justice Committee (how to get more involved)
- The CIWC’s Worker Justice Committee leads organizing efforts including workplace justice actions, coordinated campaigns, and solidarity actions with the broader labor movement and worker struggles. We meet every other Wednesday at the Center at 6:00pm. Please call: 513-621-5991 for details.
- Learn More
- Jansen Per B.A, Wage Theft In Hamilton County, 2011 Thesis
- The CIWC is a proud member of Interfaith Worker Justice and the Food Chain Workers Alliance.