"Our workers center has been around for 30 years. Wage theft is the most common problem that we have seen among workers. These builders are making huge profits from renovations but are paying their workers nothing. We have to stand up to stop wage theft," said Karen Y. Chen, Executive Director of the Chinese Progressive Association, while addressing the energized crowd.
The legislation, that passed the Senate last session and was reintroduced in January, seeks to prevent wage law violations by granting additional power to the Attorney General to hold employers and contractors accountable.
"House Bill 1033 would be a great step to get the Attorney General what she needs to help workers. We have over 140 sponsors, which shows that this is a problem, not just in Boston, but in all of Massachusetts. We need to get this bill passed to stop this from happening to Massachusetts' workers," said Representative Michlewitz, who introduced the bill in January this year.
"I stand with workers in our community to stop wage theft. This is a serious problem in my district and in the state," said Boston City Councilor-Elect Ed Flynn, who also attended the event in Downtown Boston.
Boston City Councilor-Elect Kim Janey also marched with attendees lending her support for wage theft legislation.
The rally was also attended by workers from the Chinese community who contend they fell prey to predatory contractors involved in wage theft, which frequently impacts immigrant workers, particularly in the construction industry.
"We have to use worker and community power to stop wage theft. People need to be paid for the work they do. When people don't get paid, they can't support their families or live a healthy life," said Wei Min Zheng, a Quincy resident and a victim of wage theft.
Wage theft has been a chronic problem in Massachusetts and around the country, where few remedies are currently available for victims, particularly vulnerable workers in immigrant communities. For more information about wage theft, and the push for legislation in Massachusetts, please visit http://www.stopmasswagetheft.org.
The rallying wage theft victims are working with the Chinese Progressive Association, a grassroots community organization which works for full equality and empowerment of the Chinese community in the Greater Boston area and beyond. Their activities seek to improve the living and working conditions of Chinese Americans and to involve community members in making decisions that affect their communities. For more information on the Chinese Progressive Association please visit http://www.cpaboston.org.