State Senator Diane Savino Calls for Passage of the Wage Theft Prevention Act

Diane J. Savino

May 13, 2010

(New York)- State Senator Diane J. Savino,  joined State Senator Peralta, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Assembly member Jeff Aubry, Make the Road New York,  The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union,  United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500 in calling  for the passage of the The Wage Theft Prevention Act, S7050 (Savino), A10163( Heastie).

Every day across New York State, countless workers face rampant abuse on the job: nonpayment of overtime for 70+ hour workweeks; theft of tips; illegal deductions from wages; and payment of wages drastically below the legal minimum.  In industries that form the backbone of the emerging economy,  retail, service, restaurants, construction – noncompliance with the basic protections of New York Labor Law is often the norm, not the exception.  Unscrupulous employers drive down standards, benefiting from unfair competition with businesses that do comply with the law.  The resulting lost wages, tax revenue, and economic stability affect all New Yorkers.  Every dollar stolen from the hands of a worker is a dollar’s unfair advantage over the competition and a dollar’s absence from commerce in our neighborhoods.

Standing in front of Bright Spot Cleaning, a business that has been accused of violating the workers’ rights, Senator Savino said, “Businesses that are good citizens and pay their employees exactly what is owed them and on time, as is required by law, should not be at a disadvantage to companies that are illegally withholding wages from their workers. These rogue employers not only steal wages from hard-working families who are doing all they can to make ends meet during these difficult economic times, but also steal much-needed funds from our city and state coffers.”

Senator Peralta said, “We are facing tough economic times with a high unemployment rate and businesses like the one we are highlighting today are taking advantage of working men and women and violating the law.  It is unconscionable to steal money from people who simply want to earn and honest day’s pay and support their families.  Peralta continued  “The Wage Theft Prevention Act t will guarantee that hard working New Yorkers will be  fairly compensated and that unscrupulous businesses will be punished to the fullest extent  of the law.” 

Deborah Axt, Deputy Director, Make the Road New York said, “Wage thieves steal almost a billion dollars every year out of the pockets of New York city's working  families, undercutting decent businesses trying to play by the rules. The Wage Theft Prevention Act  will level the playing field by putting a real price tag on this kind of law-breaking for the first time."

The Wage Theft Prevention Act would increase penalties and tighten enforcement of the New York laws protecting workers like those at Bright Spot from nonpayment and underpayment of  wages.   Advocates also project that the WTPA would bring in approximately $50 million in increased savings and revenues to help the state government save valuable programs currently on  the chopping block due to the fiscal crisis.