Workers Across Houston Are Being Robbed. Will City Leaders Stand Up and Stop It?

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Workers across Houston are being robbed. But it’s not by a masked burglar. It’s by their bosses.

Wage theft happens every day across America. Low-wage workers, particularly those in the retail and service sectors, are often cheated out of the minimum wage and overtime that they are entitled to by their employers.

Any time a server is asked to clean tables after they’ve punched out? That’s wage theft. When an hourly-wage retail attendant is paid less than time-and-a-half for hours worked past 40 a week? That’s wage theft. Whenever a construction worker doesn’t receive their last paycheck? That’s wage theft.

Wage theft is illegal, yet employers constantly get away with it. In Houston, more than 100 wage and hour violations occur every week. But we have an opportunity to change this.

Mayor Annise Parker is bringing a wage theft ordinance before the Houston City Council on Wednesday, November 12.

Write a message to the City Council and tell them to support the anti-wage theft bill.

The ordinance would make any business convicted of or assessed an administrative penalty for wage theft ineligible for city contracts. It would create a huge incentive for businesses to follow the law and pay workers what they are owed.

We’ve gone door-to-door talking to thousands of Houstonians collecting over 1,000 handwritten letters with one message: City Council needs to act now and stop allowing a few businesses to take advantage of workers. We’ve called on City Council to listen to the people and not make back room deals with lobbyists and special interest groups.

Tomorrow, they’ll show their hand. Tell the City Council to support the anti-wage theft bill.

Here’s a sample of what you can write:

Every worker deserves fair pay for a fair day’s work. That’s why I urge you to support the Wage Theft Ordinance.

The ordinance will level the playing field for responsible businesses and hold businesses that steal wages from their workers accountable and ensure they do not receive city contracts, permits or licenses.

Every worker deserves wage protection in Houston. Please vote in favor of the Wage Theft Ordinance.

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After Only Six Months, Working America is Booming in Texas

The following is a guest post from Michael Hicks, one of our first Working America members in Houston, Texas.

Howdy!

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and it’s true! The Working America squad here in The Lone Star State is big and growing. Members like myself have been pretty busy over the past couple of weeks collecting over 1,000 handwritten letters in support of an ordinance that would make Houston a zero-tolerance city for wage theft. Although the ordinance hasn’t passed yet, I know that when labor, faith based organizations and community affiliates come together in solidarity–things happen!

Here’s a photo from the recent press conference and rally on the steps of City Hall:

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On Thursday, another Working America member (Elisabeth Johnson) and I spoke at the press conference. This was my first time speaking at a press conference, but I was excited to speak up for hard working families like mine who want to see the ordinance passed.

Also, this past weekend Working America folks teamed up with the rest of our Harris County AFL-CIO brothers and sisters for this year’s first Labor-to-Neighbor block walk. Although it rained a bit, we threw on ponchos and saddled up to get folks ready to vote early in October!

Michael Hicks

Since I joined Working America, I feel I have a megaphone to amplify the issues important to me.

Michael Hicks
Working America Member
Houston, TX

To get involved with Working America in Texas, sign up here or email Taylor at [email protected].

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Person to Person, Working for Fair Wages in Texas

Alavaro Rodriguez, Jr., reports from Texas.

Yesterday, a group of volunteers including my father (Alvaro Rodriguez Sr.) and I got together at the Harris County AFL-CIO for a phone bank party. We called fellow Working America members to invite them to a rally to raise the minimum wage this week and tell them about what Working America is working on in Texas.

This morning, some of us are heading to Houston City Hall to speak in support of an ordinance that would punish those that commit wage theft. Workers deserve their hard-earned wages. We’ve been collecting letters of support from Houstonians like me who support the ordinance. It feels great to get work with others on these important issues.

After calling through our lists, we agreed to meet monthly for phone bank parties. Next time, we’re going to turn it into a potluck with everyone bringing a dish. If you’re in the Lone Star State anytime soon, join us!

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