CITY TO SUBMIT PROPOSED WAGE THEFT ORDINANCE
Ordinance Sets Guidelines for Somerville Businesses, Offers Penalties for Failure to Comply with Payment of Wages Law
Joseph A. Curtatone announced today his plans to submit a proposed ordinance
related to Wage Theft to the
Somerville Board of Aldermen for their consideration at their regular meeting
on Thursday, April 11th. The proposed ordinance would include language
in the City's code of ordinances granting City boards and commissions, where
allowed by state law, the authority to deny applications for licenses or
permits, for businesses found liable of or guilty, or who admit liability or guilt related to a violation of Massachusetts
General Laws pertaining to payment of wages.
The ordinance would also grant authority to revoke existing licenses or
permits, or issues penalties as necessary.
"Individuals affected by wage theft are often among the
most vulnerable in our city, and may not have the resources or necessary
information to appeal for unpaid wages, and it is our duty as community leaders
to create legislation that encourages greater enforcement of state and federal
laws," said Mayor Curtatone. "Local
businesses are integral to the fabric of this community, and in investing in
our local economy, but we must ensure that their employees are treated fairly
and given every opportunity to succeed."
A petition on this matter was presented to the City
Clerk's Office earlier this week, asking Aldermen to hold a public hearing on
wage theft in the community.
"We believe the problem of wage theft in Somerville is much
bigger than most people would assume," said Rand Wilson, a union organizer
and local labor rights activist who spearheaded the signature gathering.
"That's why more than 190 people signed the petition requesting a
public hearing. Support from Mayor Curtatone for a wage theft ordinance
is appreciated because it improves the likelihood of its becoming law and sends
a strong message about fairness to our entire community. Our objective is
to make Somerville a fairer place to work and do business."
"Violations of labor rights are a systemic problem affecting all workers," said Patricia Montes, Director of Centro Presente, a Somerville-based immigrant rights group that has been assisting many victims of wage theft. "Immigrant workers are even more vulnerable to this exploitation. The enormous movement of immigrants to the U.S. is the result of a global economic system that exploits the rights of workers in their own countries."
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