Support SWEAT Legislation – Securing Wages Earned Against Theft
In New York State, more and more workers are getting cheated of wages – not getting paid the minimum wage, or overtime pay, or wages for all the hours that we work. Some estimate that $1 billion a year is stolen from workers in New York City alone. Legislation has been introduced in the New York State Legislature (A628/S579) to address this problem and is worthy of your support. Click here for information on the campaign to support this legislation.
Employers are using many tricks to cheat workers out of pay. Once workers go to the Department of Labor or file lawsuits, employers are shutting down their businesses (only to reopen under another name), “selling” their homes to family members, filing for bankruptcy and emptying their bank accounts. By the time workers win a settlement agreement or court judgment, employers have hidden all their assets and plead poverty. One glaring example is the Indus Valley workers who have a federal court decision of $700,000 but the bosses refuse to pay it. The workers worked more than 60 hours per week and were paid as little as $3 an hour with no overtime pay. To avoid paying, owners Phuman and Lakhvir Singh changed the name of the business from Indus Valley to Manhattan Valley and claim to have sold the business. This is a tactic used by many unscrupulous employers to ignore court judgments and continue to break the law. In total, six groups of workers have sued the Singhs yet they continue to do business around the city. Many workers around the state face the same problem – one recent NYS study found that judgments against employers totaling more that $125 million had not been paid. When low-wage workers are unable to collect the wages they are owed, the minimum wage and overtime laws are rendered useless. Workers get robbed of wages. Our government gets cheated of payroll taxes. Legitimate businesses are undermined by scofflaw employers. This hurts working families, law-abiding businesses, and our state’s economy. Workers desperately need the tools in SWEAT to collect stolen wages by making it harder for employers to fraudulently transfer their assets.
At a time when unscrupulous employers will be emboldened by Trump’s anti-immigrant attacks to further cheat immigrant workers and pit citizen against immigrant workers, we need to come together -as citizen and immigrant workers, documented and undocumented- to call for economic justice for all workers, and ensure that all workers can use SWEAT when it passes.