Back in early January, Bluestem reported that a Dept. of Labor & Industry report on ag overtime discovers lack of required payment after 48 hrs. Essentially, some workers are being robbed of wages due them under existing law.
Sadly, the practice isn't limited to the ag sector; fortunately, some Minnesota state lawmakers have listened to the workers' call for justice.
Via CBS Minnesota, the Associated Press reported in Unions Want Tougher Laws Against So-Called Wage Theft:
Minnesota’s leading labor unions are pushing for stiffer penalties against employers caught improperly withholding worker pay or skirting overtime requirements.
The Minnesota AFL-CIO and some union partners outlined an array of law changes Wednesday that they say would give employees more recourse. Advocates say the proposal being introduced soon at the Capitol would increase penalties on employers found to have violated pay laws and enable affected employees to recoup three times their lost wages.
The bill would allow for employees to file confidential complaints of so-called wage theft to be investigated by the Department of Labor and Industry.
Labor groups could find a tougher time with their agenda this session because Republicans now have House control. . . .
Workday Minnesota has more in Legislation would ensure workers are paid what they earn, including the details of the bill (as we write this on Sunday evening, the companion bills are not yet linked to the reported House and Senate chief authors' pages, though given the fanfare last week we assumed the bills are in the works).
Workday's Barb Kucera reports on the deets:
The legislation, authored by Senator David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, and Representative Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, would:
- Increase penalties for wage theft from double to triple the amount owed to the employee.
- Provide criminal penalties for employers who willfully or repeatedly violate this law.
- Ensure wage theft complaints are confidential.
- Extend the statute of limitations on wage theft to six years.
- Allow the state to revoke a business license for non-compliance or multiple abuses in paying back lost wages.
- Require employers who violate this law to post a bond to prove they have the ability to pay wages.
- Provide for grants to community organizations to help educate workers about their rights and how to recoup lost wages.
- Create a wage recovery fund from penalties paid as a contingency to ensure workers receive the wages owed to them.
- Protect workers from employer retaliation.
- Bring Minnesota into conformity with the federal government by extending overtime pay after 40 hours to all employees deemed eligible under federal law.
Here's a video of the February 11 press conference, via the Labor Education Service:
Photo: A dairy farm.
If you appreciate Bluestem Prairie, you can mail contributions (payable to Sally Jo Sorensen P.O. Box 108, Maynard MN 56260) or use the paypal button below:
Email subscribers can contribute via this link to paypal; use email sally.jo.sorensen at gmail.com as recipient.