Jones Pledges to Take Action against Wage Theft if Elected, Hold Bosses who Steal Criminally Liable
(Albany, NY) Brian Jones, the Green Lt. Governor candidate, said today that the State Labor Department and Attorney General needed to crack down on the epidemic of wage theft. Jones spoke at the monthly rally of the Coalition for a Real Minimum Wage Increase in front of the State Labor Department at 77 Varrick St. in New York.
"Too many bosses know that Cuomo has told the Labor Department to side with employers rather than workers. So they feel free to steal their wages, more than a billion dollars a year. A Hawkins-Jones administration will enforce the laws against wage theft, including putting bosses who steal behind bars," said Jones.
"One of the clear messages from Cuomo's decision to shut down the Moreland Commission once they wanted to investigate his campaign contributors is that Cuomo is for sale. Companies know that if they make a campaign contribution they can get the Cuomo administration to be their friends. Low-income workers don't have the money to play this corrupt game," added Jones.
The Hawkins-Jones team polled 7% of the vote in the Quinnipiac poll released today. That would be the highest vote ever for a progressive third party gubernatorial candidate in NYS, and reflects the party’s growing support among labor and worker organizations.
Jones said the Green Party supported strengthening the law to make it easy for workers to collect when the win judgments awarding them back pay. The SWEAT bill would include allowing workers who win hearings to file a lien against the employers. Many companies shuffle ownership among relatives to avoid paying back wages.
Jones said the Green Party supported hiring more Labor Department investigators to deal with the 2 year backlog of wage theft cases (15,000). The Cuomo administration instead wants to reduce the backlog by cutting in half the amount of time they will look backwards in wage thefts cases, 3 years instead of 6.
Jones, who supports raising the state minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, also criticized Cuomo for misleading the public about the status of a minimum wage board to provide a raise for food tip workers. Food tip workers were excluded from last year's deal on a pay hike, Cuomo has refused for more than a year to convene a minimum wage board to provide a hike administratively as state lawmakers directed him to do. Cuomo issued a press release the day after the NY Times ran its Moreland expose, indicating that he was finally convening the minimum wage board. However, he has still not done so.
Food tip workers have already lost tens of millions in wages due to Cuomo's delay.
If they win the election, Jones said the Green Party would administratively raise the minimum wage to a level adequate to support workers - a minimum of $15 an hour. The Governor also has the power to raise the minimum wage locally to reflect living costs. The Green Party, unlike Cuomo, supports giving local governments the full power to set a higher minimum wage in their communities. Cuomo wants to cap the locals' power.