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Wage Theft Wed Mar 31 2010

The New Sheriff In Our Town

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was in Chicago today, on a tour of the US promoting the Department's new "We Can Help" initiative. The initiative aims to raise public awareness of the national problem with wage theft by employers. Solis has announced she will be tripling the staff of the Department's Wage and Hour Division, and begin aggressively pursuing employers who steal from their employees. When Solis was confirmed in February of 2009, she announced that there was a "new sheriff in town" and pledged that labor law would begin to be enforced.

The Bush administration had focused their Wage and Hour resources on larger employers, but staff size was minuscule and the division was overworked and unable to pursue complaints seriously.

Wage theft costs Illinois workers hundreds of millions of dollars a year; in New York City the number is in the billions. It is a serious crime treated lightly ("They're lucky to have a job in the first place"), a function of the propaganda that employers are charitable "job creators" and everyone else fortunate vassals. Cities across the country are beginning to look seriously at local legislation to punish irresponsible employers who cheat their employees and undercut the vast majority of responsible employers.

Secretary Solis appeared in the East Terrace room of UIC's student center, overlooking Hull House, to announce the campaign. Pointing to the city's skyline, Secretary Solis reminded the crowd that it was the DOL's "moral responsibility" to advocate for those "work in those buildings by day, and clean them by night."

If you feel your employer has cheated you out of overtime, mandated breaks, or any wages, contact the DOL.

Progress Illinois posted the following video and have a more complete write-up.


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