Wage Theft Hearing 3-13-13

This is a brief update on the hearing in the House Business and Labor Committee on our package of the Wage Theft bills (HB 2976, HB 2977, and HB 3142) March 13th, 2013. The hearing room was so packed (with supporters and opposition, mainly from temp agencies) that the majority of us were in an overflow room. Because of the sheer volume of community members signed up, testimonies were cut off before everyone had a chance to speak. A number of workers did a wonderful job testifying about their experiences around wage theft. Romeo Sosa, Executive Director of Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project and Ignacio Paramo, Director of the MLK Jr. Worker Center, testified at the hearing along with allies and partner organizations in the Oregon Coalition to End Wage Theft. These folks included Lee Mercer (Main Street Alliance), Karen Nettler (Oregon Center for Christian Voices), Janet Bauer (Oregon Center for Public Policy), Michael Dale (Northwest Workers’ Justice Project), and Ramon Ramirez (PCUN).

This is the first step in winning institutional change to better protect workers and their rights. The hearing was successful in establishing that wage theft is a serious problem that significantly affects our families on a daily basis. We need a solution. The temp agencies were well prepared and expressed their opinion on how the legislation would hurt good employers. Our allies from NWWJP and the Coalition plan write to the committee to address misunderstandings of the bills’ language and propose solutions.

Thank you to all the workers, community members, and people who turned out to testify and who showed the strength of the working class.