Tag Archives: wage-theft ordinance

Big Money Lobbyists and Groups Line Up Against Wage Theft Ordinance

ABC-13 has the latest (video).

Apparently, members of a couple of local restaurant and contractors association are OK with companies stealing wages from hard-working Houstonians. These groups are threatening to weaken or just defeat a wage theft ordinance that would protect thousands of workers.

Much like they write checks to incumbents and candidates, it seems they are willing to put up some big money lobbyists to fight for them, too. I’m looking forward to finding out who these lobbyists are, or if they have PACs.

Here’s a note from Fe y Justicia Worker Center.

While we were disappointed the vote on the Wage Theft Ordinance was postponed until next week, that feeling is overcome by the warmth of the strong solidarity from each of you!

Apparently creating consequences for employers that intentionally steal their employees’ pay is such a threat to some unscrupulous businesses that they’ve hired high-paid lobbyists to work behind the scenes against it. You know what that means?

As Martin Mares, Fe y Justicia Worker Center’s Board Treasurer commented, “les pusimos el dedo en la llaga” – we’re hitting them where it hurts!

Give ’em a few bucks, so they can continue their work against the big money.

Will you join us for the final vote on Tuesday, Nov. 19th at 1:30pm at City Hall Council Chambers? Can you make one more call to your council members

Together we can win respect for the value of all Houstonians’ labor!

Wage Theft Ordinance Vote Today at City Council

UPDATE:  ITEM consideration has been postponed until next week, according to Mayor Parker. Today’s public comments have had mostly supporters of the wage theft ordinance, as written. There was one business group who stated they were fine with the ordinance affecting only city contractors, but they appear to want to protect non-city contractors who screw workers. What’s up with that?

Anyway, Mike Morris at the Chron has a write-up of the latest on the issue.

Continue reading

Down With Wage Theft Rally – 9/19 [HOUSTON]




Where Are We On Wage Theft?

My friend Texpate gave us an update from what appeared in the Chron on the latest regarding the proposed wage theft ordinance. Texpate seems to think that the ordinance is on life-support, even in its watered down state. Still, the Chron didn’t provide much information about others on Council who are against it, as Texpate reminded us.

I tried to get some more quotes out of Morris vis-a-vis specific stands by other Councilmembers, but was unsuccessful. That being said, I suspect that other right-wing Councilmembers assisted in piling onto this measure. These would include people like Jack Christie, Helena Brown and Oliver Pennington.

Unfortunately, my own Council Member Mike Laster seems to also be looking out for “business interests” while his own council district more than likely has the most workers in the city who would benefit from the ordinance. There’s no doubt the district has workers who are exploited.

As a constituent, I e-mailed my thoughts that he should support the ordinance back on July 22.

Councilmember Laster,

I write to request that you support the proposed wage-theft ordinance which will be considered by the Public Safety Commission on Tuesday. 

Wage-theft is nothing new, particularly when targeted at immigrant communities–the very type which reside in our District J. Whether it is small businesses, corporations, or even government contractors, there is a rampant scourge of wage-theft in our community. Organizations, such as Fe y Justicia Worker Center, work tirelessly every day to collect back pay on behalf of workers. A strong ordinance, such as that which is proposed, will go a long way at stopping businesses from taking advantage of workers. 

All workers and all families deserve a shot at prosperity in our wonderful city. I would appreciate it if you would join your colleagues who support the proposed Wage-Theft Ordinance. It is time to stand up to unscrupulous businesses for the good of our community.

Simple and to the point, right? Well, I’ll overlook the fact that I didn’t find a response in my inbox, but I will still hold out some hope that he will do the right thing and support the wage theft ordinance. Or, at least give a public, quotable answer as to why he does not support it.

City Council Approves Group Home Rules; Favorable Toward Wage-Theft Rules

Well, a couple of items in which I’ve been interested saw some action this week at City Hall. City Council unanimously approved regulations for group homes which house 3 to 16 people.

According to Council Member Ed Gonzalez, these homes have not been regulated because they do not fall under the same guidelines as state-licensed care facilities. Usually, these group homes house individuals who have mental and physical disabilities or are elderly. And we have heard of recent hazardous situations recently which have endangered folks in these housing situations.

The ordinance enacted by City Council will create a basic registration process for Boarding Homes which will incorporate: access to the facilities by the Houston Police Department’s Mental Health Division, background checks for staff and caregivers, annual fire inspections, a mandatory fire evacuation plan, mandatory record-keeping, and a requirement to report criminal activity and deaths.

Council Member Gonzalez, who serves as Chair of the City Council Public Safety Committee stated: “City Council took a major step forward in helping to protect those that are often, our most vulnerable citizens. I am proud of the work that went into crafting a fair and effective ordinance that tackles the issue of unregulated care facilities head-on. I thank Mayor Annise Parker and her Administration, my colleagues on Council, and the many stakeholders who came to the table for their support, feedback, and assistance throughout this process.”

And as I mentioned earlier this week, the Fe y Justicia Worker Center lobbied City Council to enact a wage-theft ordinance. The proposed ordinance was presented to City Council and discussed by various stakeholders at a Public Safety Committee hearing, receiving favorable comments.

“Obviously, we do have a large amount of buying power, purchasing power, a large number of contracts, and, obviously, we want to make sure the city of Houston says, ‘We’re not going to be doing business with somebody that’s found to be guilty of this type of activity,'” Councilman Ed Gonzalez said.


Of the council members present at the public safety committee meeting, most welcomed the proposal. Councilman Jack Christie said, “It’s obvious something has to be done.”

Councilman James Rodriguez added, “Anybody that is going to cheat workers should not be allowed to do business or have city contracts.”

Jeff Nielsen, of the Houston Contractors Association, said much of the effectiveness of the proposal likely would rest with the coordinator position. Nielsen said he is concerned about fraud – the possibility of laborers walking off the job and claiming they were unjustly stiffed – but said those qualms likely will not lead him to seek changes to the proposal.

Fast-food worker Olga Castro said she works 65 to 75 hours a week without overtime pay.

“I’m not here because of the wages my employer owes me,” she said. “I’m here because of the impunity and lack of consequences for employers like this. Many employers are committing violations of the law without receiving any penalties.”

Stan Marek, of the Marek Brothers Co. Inc., and a Greater Houston Partnership board member, said most Texas construction workers are paid in cash and get no worker’s compensation. He said the proposal should ask more of contractors.

“This is happening in my industry, and I’m ashamed of it,” Marek said.

Let’s hope it gets voted out of committee and placed on the Council’s agenda sooner and not later.

I did my part and sent a letter to my district member of City Council, Mike Laster, who was said to be iffy on the wage-theft ordinance. I hope the hearing provided him a basis on which to strongly support the ordinance.

You can send a letter to your council member, too–click here for info.

One thing is for sure, the workers who would benefit from this ordinance showed up to City Council for the hearing.

Workers who Support Down WIth Wage Theft Campaign