Wage Theft Campaign

A brief history and mission of the Wage Theft Campaign?

The Wage Theft Campaign is a collective effort of the community to end the wage exploitation of low wage, temporary and casual workers in Colorado. Through its Wage Theft Clinic, El Centro has helped recover tens of thousands of dollars.  This work informs its leading role in advocacy and organizing efforts to strengthen workers’ rights and enhance penalties for unscrupulous employers.

El Centro’s Wage Theft Program provides direct services to resolve wage theft cases and offers worker’s rights trainings, fact-finding services, and collaborates with Denver University’s College of Law and other specialized wage-theft lawyers to resolve these cases.

“Thou shalt not steal— it’s a pretty straightforward message,” says Interfaith Worker Justice Executive Director Kim Bobo, whose 2008 book Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans Are Not Getting Paid—And What We Can Do About It exposed the national crisis and has become a rallying cry for the campaign to end it.

Thou Shall Not Steal:

El Centro and key collaborators celebrated the passage of The Wage Protection Act that was signed into law by the Governor in May, 2014. The bill went into affect January 2015 granting the state department of Labor and Employment new necessary enforcement tools including investigative, adjudicative and fine issuing authority.

Spearheaded by El Centro and various coalition groups, the Wage Theft Campaign secured the passage of a new Denver ordinance in 2005 that defines predatory employers as thieves and gives Denver police officers the authority to arrest predatory employers and pursue civil and criminal penalties.

A Path Forward to End Wage Theft:

El Centro’s Wage Theft Campaign has established three main goals to advocate for policy change, more severe penalties for unscrupulous employers, and an end to the exploitation of low-wage workers.

1). Build a more robust Anti-Wage Theft program that is multi-layered with worker member ownership and supported by strategic alliances.

El Centro collaborates with Towards Justice and The University of Denver Law School as well as committed cadre of attorneys, University law clinics as well as local and regional government agencies to better enforce employee wage and hour regulations. These partnerships are dedicated to streamlining the processes related to Wage Theft cases.

Apart from building support for our Wage Theft Campaign, El Centro continues to co-facilitate a Wage Theft Task Force in partnership with Towards Justice, Workplace Rights Project at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and Professor Galemba at The University of Denver Korbel School of International Studies.   The Task Force is comprised of representatives from the Department of Labor, private lawyers who specialize in recovering lost wages, concerned businesses and Community Based Non-Profit Organizations. This Task Force meets 6 times/year and aims to address the issue of wage theft using a multi-level approach.

2). Gain recognition throughout Denver and Aurora

El Centro promotes and creates awareness of our Anti-Wage Theft Campaign by delivering presentations to varied audiences throughout the community, especially through presentations at churches and universities. El Centro will also strategically use media coverage to portray representative wage theft cases and deliver crucial information about El Centro’s Anti-Wage Theft program. These efforts should result in a measurable increase of non-members who approach El Centro for assistance and an expanded support and awareness in the Denver Metro and Aurora community.

3). Advance Anti-Wage Theft policies at the local and state level

El Centro strives to advance Anti-Wage Theft policies by continuing to collaborate with stakeholders and members of the Wage Theft Task Force, which include representatives from community allies, the Department of Labor, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Apart from building community support and recognition for the Anti-Wage Theft Campaign, El Centro also seeks to develop an educated and organized base of supporters. By encouraging worker members to actively engage and participate in the campaign, greater momentum and unity will be created in advancing Anti-Wage theft policies at the local and state level.

To join the Wage Theft Task Force, please contact Sarah Shikes at sshikes@centrohumanitario.org or call 303-292-4115 ext 105.

To volunteer for El Centro’s Wage Theft Direct Action Team, please contact Amy Czulada at directactionteam.centro@gmail.com or at 303-292-4115 ext 104 to leave a message.