Wage Theft Press Conference

Press conference against wage theft, with representatives of different police departments in the Rio Grande Valley. Summer 2013.

The biggest problem that low-wage workers face in the Rio Grande Valley is wage theft, so it is our priority to stop it.

The problem is rampant here because a large number of workers are undocumented and jobs in industries with high levels of wage theft dominate the labor market.

Fuerza has documented over hundreds of individual cases of wage theft, costing workers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost pay.

“I’m optimistic because every time we do recoup wages, it encourages me to continue. But we need more support because there’s no security for workers at all.” —  Cris Rocha, organizer

Dishonest bosses know that a lot of workers will look for another job rather than fight the injustice because they have to make ends meet and cannot risk losing more time.

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Direct action against packing shed that did not pay workers. Edinburg, TX, Summer 2016.

In 2011, labor groups got the Texas Legislature to acknowledge the scope of the problem and strengthen the Theft of Service Law. The new bill closed a loophole that allowed employers to get away with only partially paying their employees and made it a felony to steal services worth more than $2500.

Enforcement of the law has lagged behind though and many local authorities don’t even know that the law exists. The vast majority of wage theft cases still go unreported and the ones that do rarely get prosecuted without community pressure. Fuerza is committed to changing this dynamic.

We have launched a campaign to:

  • Help workers make wage claims and recover stolen wages.
  • Educate workers, employers, and the authorities on wage theft and the law.
  • Make sure police and sheriff departments investigate claims and district attorneys prosecute cases when appropriate.
  • Hold public actions to raise awareness and pressure unscrupulous businesses to comply with the law.
  • Advocate for stronger wage theft protections at the state level through the Build A Better Texas Campaign.

The goal of the campaign is to break the culture of impunity that exists in the Valley and ensure that workers get paid fairly for their hard work.

Join our fight to stop wage theft!

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