A recent victory over wage theft shows what workers everywhere need to claw back their stolen pay—support, resources and enforcement.

by Mindy Isser, In These Times

In recent years, mainstream media has been dominated by stories of increased crime, but rarely do outlets cover one of the most common and insidious offenses in our society: wage theft.

Employers steal billions of dollars from workers every year by paying less than minimum wage, making employees work off the clock, not paying earned overtime, misclassifying workers as independent contractors and more. While wage theft is all too common, it is rarely reported. As a result, stolen wages are rarely recovered, leaving already-low wage workers even poorer — and bosses even richer. But around the country, workers have been fighting back by organizing with unions and using the tools available to them at labor departments on the municipal, state and federal levels.

Workers Against Wage Theft protest Gov. Cuomo for falling to act on Wage Theft problem that steals $1Billion in wages from workers each year.

In January, non-union construction workers at Unforgettable Coatings LLC who partnered with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) scored a major victory in the fight against wage theft by winning back more than $3 million that had been stolen from them. IUPAT’s success has shown that fighting back against wage theft is possible — although it can require time and resources that many workers lack.

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