Houston City Council Poised to Attack Wage Theft, Payroll Fraud and Misclassification
by Bob Price on August 15, 2013 at 11:00 AM
TexasGOPVote has been reporting on issues regarding wage theft, payroll fraud and employee misclassification for several years now. Recently the Texas Legislature passed legislation to help clamp down on some companies that are misclassifying their workers as independent contractors instead of employees. This practice cheats the taxpayers of Texas and creates an unfair business competitive advantage over companies that follow the law. Now the Houston City Council is considering passing an ordinance to crack down on unethical companies who cheat employees out of hard earned wages.
An article by Laura Perez-Boston on ConstructionCitizen.com reports that a grassroots coalition of workers from 34 business and civic organizations have teamed up to ask the City of Houston to take action on wage theft. Members of the coalition atteneded a City Council Public Safety Committee hearing in July to lay the groundwork for an ordinance to be proposed to City Council. This week, Fe y Judticia Worker Center hosted a phone bank to call Mayor Anise Parker and members of Council to attempt to bring the issue to a full vote of City Council.
The objective of the bill is to protect the hard earned wages of workers as well as create a level playing field for companies competing for business. The proposed Anti-Wage Theft ordinance would allow the city to suspend, revoke or cancel any city-issued licenses or permits of any business that fails to pay its employees their legally owed wages.
Michael Kubosh, a Houston business owner and candidate for Houston City Council, At Large Position 3, took exception to the practice of wage theft. "I support this measure," Kubosh explained. "The companies that are guilty of this practice should not be able to advance their business by stealing from their employees. Theft is wrong and the city should do its part by not licensing or otherwise doing business with the guilty parties."
Construction Citizen quotes a "Houston Wage Theft Report" that claims more than $753 million in wages are illegally withheld from low-wage workers in the Houston area each year. This is a huge drain on our local economy and creates a huge competitive advantages for unethical companies who cheat the system. Additionally, it forces many of these families to seek taxpayer funded assistance while they fight for their wages.
Houston has an opportunity to show leadership on this issue which could work to help reduce welfare roles by making sure certain employees are paid the wages they earn through their labor. Houston would become the first Texas city to enact this type of an ordinance and only the second southern city. Please contact your city council member and ask them to keep Houston a place where you can work hard and get paid what you earned!