The Income Protection Act (HB13-1227): Sponsored by Rep. Jonathan Singer (HD11) and State Senator Jessie Ulibarri (SD21). Text from the bill reads as follows: “The bill creates the crime of wage theft for failing to pay wages or compensation to an employee or falsely denying the amount of wages or compensation due.”
Here’s what fellow LAD member and El Comite Board Member Bob Norris has to say about wage theft: “Victimized workers living on the margins or below the poverty line lose the ability to provide adequate food for their family or pay rent with the possibility of becoming homeless. Not being paid what you were promised is also demeaning…It is quite clear that wage victims have little effective recourse in Colorado. This needs to change. We cannot be a state that tolerates stealing from anyone let alone the poor. We need to balance the needs of business with that of victims and families. Currently, the balance and laws do virtually nothing for workers. Clearly, low wage earners individually have little ability to influence what happens in the capital…”
ACTION ITEMS Here’s how you can help:
1. The bill first goes to the Business Committee, so send an email to each of the committee members urging their support of this bill. (click the “legislative contacts & committees” widget, in the right hand column of this page) Please note: we are in the process of updating our contacts page, but the info for the Business House Committee is complete at this time. Thanks for your patience!
2. Contact Rep. Singer and Sen. Ulibarri thanking them for their work on this bill and asking them what you can do next in support of their efforts. firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
3. Track the bill. Go to www.leg.state.co.us Click “SESSION INFORMATION”, then House 2013 Regular Session, then Status Sheet. Go to toggle near top that reads Select Bill Range (House Bills 1201-1250), click “go” to find HB13-1227. You can download a pdf of the bill, you’ll see that it was introduced on February 7, and you can see its progress through the Committees until it is ready to be voted upon.
Suggested language and talking points:
Dear Representative _______________ My name is _______________ , I live in your district and I am a voter. I’m (calling/emailing) to express my strong support for The Income Protection Act, HB13-1227, which would make it harder for unethical employers to underpay or not pay their workers all the wages legally owed to them. This is a big problem across the country and here in Colorado.
(Choose One Example and/or a personal story:)
• Every year in the U.S. employees lose billions of dollars in rightfully earned income. The Economic Policy Foundation, a business-funded think tank, estimated that workers in the U.S. annually lose $19 BILLION in unpaid overtime, alone. (Craig Becker, “A Good Job for Everyone: Fair Labor Standards Act Must Protect Employees in Nation’s Growing Service Economy,” Legal Times, 27, No, 36, Sept 6, 2004)
• Wage theft hurts honest employers when wage theft occurs largely unchecked, as they are left at a competitive disadvantage by paying full wages, creating a “race to the bottom.”
• Wage theft harms the state budget, resulting in lost income tax. It is estimated that before New York State passed their own new Wage Theft law, they were losing $427 million of state revenue per year due to Wage Theft. (Traub and Friedman, 2010) Conclusion: I believe The Income Protection Act for Colorado helps remove the many barriers that victims of wage theft currently experience in getting the wages that are already owed to them. Over 5,200 workers in our State currently contact the CDLE with wage and hour claims and the Department only has a few hard-working staff to handle these calls. This Bill will help provide victims of Wage Theft more avenues to resolve their issues. Additional possible talking points: In a poll commissioned by the Denver nonprofit organization FRESC late last year, they found that 73% of Colorado voters around the state who took part in the Poll favor a new Bill strengthening wage theft laws in the State. If the Representative or their aide would like more info about wage theft laws around the country and in Colorado, direct them here: http://www.unprotectedworkers.org/index.php/broken_laws/index