Gresham Wage Theft Workshop

by Sara Post,

Photo by Douglas Yarrow

A workshop to raise awareness about Wage Theft and possibilities for its reduction occurred on Wednesday February 15th at the Vecinos Unidos center in Gresham. The space houses the We Are Oregon office and works to address foreclosure, unemployment and cuts in services experienced increasingly by local Latino and African American families. The workshop involved representatives from Voz, who explained wage theft to an audience of about twenty, offering first hand accounts by victims from the worker center who also performed skits to demonstrate scenarios in which wage theft might occur. Present at the event was Kate Newhall, one of the three representatives from the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). As legislative director, she encounters many instances of violated labor employment laws and urges workers to learn their rights to avoid getting paid less than minimum wage— which is currently $8.80/hr. And when wage theft occurs, Newhall suggests speaking with BOLI or any of the other groups present at the workshop: the Northwest Workers Justice Project, SEIU, We Are Oregon, as well as Voz. “People get their wages stolen everywhere, all the time. Whenever you work and don’t get paid, get paid less than promised, or get paid below minimum wage—it’s wage theft,” said Newhall. An attendant named Nancy, home care nurse, detailed her encounters with being manipulated into working overtime without pay, as well as illegal deductions. She spoke positively about the Wage Theft workshop and its potential for cutting occurrences of wage theft in the Portland region.