Fuerza Laboral/Power of Workers unveiled their publication Shortchanged: A Study of Unpaid Wages in Rhode Island, a report conducted with research assistance from the Schmidt Labor Research Center, University of Rhode Island at a March 5 press conference at the State House Rotunda in Providence, RI . The study reveals through statistical research and personal testimony the damage that nonpayment of wages imposes on local residents.
“I didn’t get paid, my bills were backed up, my rent was backed up, I got in trouble with child support” says Fuerza Laboral member and wage theft victim Patrick Pierce. “There were 15 other guys in the shop and none of us were paid, it doesn’t just affect me it affects them but also the corner store that I go to, and my daughters schooling and the government taking taxes”. Mr. Pierce, along with other nonpayment and wage theft victims spoke out about the need to strengthen existing law to stop this abuse; they were joined by union leaders and supporters.
The USDOL awarded approximately $3.2 million in back wages during roughly mid-‐2002 to early 2012.
For various reasons, including a lack of familiarity with one’s rights, the fear of retaliation, or simply alack of time or resources to pursue one’s claim, the number of complaints and estimates of money owed likely underestimate the problem.
“This publication uses real data and statistics obtained by state and federal government offices as well our organization’s records to demonstrate the impact of this rampant violation of the law on affected workers,” says Heiny Maldonado, Executive Director of Fuerza Laboral. “It also identifies the industries that most frequently steal workers’ hard earned wages. We want our state government to enforce our wage theft laws with more muscle.”
Fuerza Laboral/Power of Workers is a Rhode Island based community organization dedicated to ending labor law violations and protecting the rights of workers. Like the Fuerza Laboral Facebook page here.