Grand Rapids looks at tying ‘wage theft’ to city contracts
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – After hearing from a task force that a “national epidemic” of wage theft is prevalent in Grand Rapids, city officials are considering new regulations on companies with whom they do public business.
The Micah Center, a Christian non-profit housed at Hope Reformed Church, wants Grand Rapids to discourage city contractors from engaging in wage theft, a term for underpaying or withholding wages from workers. The center’s 3-point proposal: any business that wants to contract with the city must self-certify that they have not engaged in wage theft during the previous two years and will not do so during the course of their proposed contract with the city
1. if a business is found to be involved in wage theft, the city will withhold payment until workers are properly compensated, and the business will be ineligible for city contracts for some period of time based on the severity of the wage theft
2. businesses that contract with the city must post a list of workers’ wage rights in a visible place, as well as the telephone number of a “wage theft hotline” to be staffed by task force members
3. “It’s saying ‘If you get city contracts, you just have to follow the law,’” said Kim Bobo, executive director of Chicago-based Interfaith Worker Justice and author of “Wage Theft in America.”
“If you’re using public dollars, at the minimum you ought to obey the law. The eighth commandment is short and clear: ‘Thou shalt not steal.’”
At the urging of The Micah Center, Mayor George Heartwell two years ago commissioned a task force to study wage theft and …