You are on page 1of 30

Wage Theft Toolkit

Day of Action

Part 1: General Information


A.
B.
C.
D.
E.

Wage Theft Day of Action Introduction


Network-wide Action: Digital March on Washington
About Wage Theft
National Wage Theft Legislation Update
Messaging for the National Wage Theft Day of Action

2
2
3
4
5

Part 2: Action Ideas


Para ver la lista de acciones en espaol, haga click aqu.
A.
B.
C.
D.
E.
F.
G.
H.

Letter to the editor/blog post/op-ed


Press Conference
Wage Theft Community Forum
Action tied to one of your own campaigns
Religious Resources
Canvassing
CORPS Meetings
Write a letter to your Congressperson and/or schedule a visit

7
7
8
8
9
9
10
10

Part 3: Appendices
A.
B.
C.
D.
E.
F.
G.

Appendix A: Tips on writing letters to the editor


Appendix B: Organizing a press conference
Appendix C: Organizing a Community Forum
Appendix D: Action links
Appendix E: Religious Resources
Appendix F: Canvassing Tips and Resources
Appendix G: Writing a letter to/meeting with your member of Congress

11
12
14
16
16
26
29

General Information

A. Wage Theft Day of Action Introduction


The Interfaith Worker Justice network is full of creative and talented workers, leaders, organizers, people of faith, and tireless worker advocates who are all committed to upholding the
inherent dignity and honor of all workers. This November 18 is our National Wage Theft Day
of Action. We are asking members of the IWJ family to come together and take action towards
ending wage theft in your community. Its a long road to the end of wage theft in our country,
but on November 18, were asking you to take one step down that road.

Goal
Our goal is to have every IWJ affiliate and many other allies across the country taking action on
November 18 to amplify our message of justice and our demand to end wage theft at the local
and national levels. The purpose of the National Wage Theft Day of Action is to raise awareness
and collectively move into action to address wage theft in the US.

The Toolkit
This toolkit presents a number of ideas for actions your organization can take, as well as tools
to help you implement these ideas and think about long-term strategies around fighting wage
theft. The index on the first page lists ideas that you can plan for the Day of Action, and the appendices at the end of the toolkit provide templates and examples to help you implement these
actions.
IWJ will also have a Network-wide Online Action on November 18. As each IWJ affiliate takes local action on November 18, we will also stand together as one network to end wage theft in the
United States. To find out more about it, read on!

B. Network-wide Action: Digital March on Washington


Goal
To create a unified network action that every IWJ affiliate can participate in and generate online
action from thousands of people across the country to end wage theft.

The Action
The Digital March on Washington will be a web page that prompts all visitors to contact
their members of Congress to end wage theft in the United States. Anyone who takes action will be contributing to progress on IWJs March on Washington to end wage theft in
the United States.

The asks:
Contact your members of Congress about supporting the Wage Theft Prevention and

Interfaith Worker Justice

Wage Recovery Act & the Pay Stub Disclosure Act.


Anyone who signs the petition will be invited to connect with a local IWJ affiliate near
them.

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Opportunities:

Affiliates who have registered their action with IWJ will be able to access a list with contact
info of supporters near them who signed the petition on November 18. These are potential
donors, members, or supporters for your organization. The more affiliate actions listed on
the website, the better chance we generate publicity for your action

Logistics:

IWJ affiliates should circulate the link on their websites and/or promote it on their social
media platforms to get as many supporters as possible.

C. About Wage Theft


Wage theft is an insidious national crime. Workers in the United States have an estimated $50
billion in wages stolen from them each year. Thats more than three times the $14 billion lost in
burglaries, larcenies, stolen cars, and robberies.1
Wage theft includes:

violations of minimum wage laws


non-payment of time-and-a-half overtime pay
workers being forced to work off the clock
workers not receiving their final paychecks
workers having their tips stolen by management
payroll fraud through worker misclassification as independent contractors

Stopping and deterring wage theft requires multi-pronged, creative approaches that will come
from various members of our communities--workers who are educated about their rights,
employers who understand their responsibilities, legislators who are willing to pass laws with
means of effective enforcement, and advocates who are willing to take action.

Additional Resources on Wage Theft


2012 Wage Theft primer
Wage Theft website: www.wagetheft.org
Relevant external reports:
An Epidemic of Wage Theft is Costing Workers Hundreds of Millions of Dollars a
Year, 2014

Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers: Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in


Americas Cities, 2009

By a Thousand Cuts: The Complex Face of Wage Theft in New York, 2015
Wages AND Hours: Why Workers in Emeryvilles Service Sector Need a Fair Work

week, 2016
Deterring Wage Theft: Alt-Labor, State Politics, and the Policy Determinants of Minimum Wage Compliance, 2016

Economic Policy Institute http://www.epi.org/publication/epidemic-wage-theft-costing-workers-hundreds/)

Interfaith Worker Justice

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

D. National Wage Theft Legislation Update


As the uncertainty around the upcoming presidential election looms over the country, IWJ affiliates continue their tireless fight combating the numerous ways working people can become
victims of wage theft.
Over the past few months, IWJ affiliates across the country have been meeting with their closest Community Outreach, Resource, and Planning Specialists (CORPS). A CORP Specialist is
a recent addition to the Wage and Hour Division of the US Department of Labor. The CORP
Specialists engage communities in dialogue about local industry practices and labor concerns;
they also provide training and resources to working people.
The IWJ network hopes to use these relationships to ensure a seat at the table for the strategic
planning meetings where the future priorities of their District Offices are determined. Additionally, a closer relationship will help IWJ affiliates to be more informed throughout the process of
helping workers file complaints for wage and hour violations.
Another important tool in building both local and national anti-wage theft campaigns has been
the use of online petitions. The website www.WageTheft.org is making it easier for individuals
and organizations to create online petitions as an additional point of pressure on unscrupulous
employers.
But the battle doesnt stop there. IWJ is working hard to provide workers with additional tools
to fight wage theft by rallying support around two important bills in Congress. The first is The
Pay Stub Disclosure Act (HR 4376/S. 2630) which would require a uniform, national paystub explaining how a workers wages are calculated, whether or not they were paid overtime. The Pay
Stub Disclosure Act will give working people the right to inspect their employers pay records.
The second bill is the Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act (HR 4762/S. 2697), which
would, among other things create new civil penalties for employers who engage in wage theft
and increase the damages available to working people who experience wage theft or suffer
retaliation for filing wage theft complaints.
Twice this year, leaders from across the IWJ network participated in lobbying days in Washington, DC and were able to convince many members of Congress to pledge their support and
even, in many cases, to co-sponsor the bills.
IWJ and its affiliates need your help to get these bills passed! We ask that all of you reach out to
your members of Congress and ask them to sign these bills into law! To contact your members
of Congress, go to http://bit.ly/PayStubs4All
Finally, November 18th is IWJs Wage Theft Day of Action. Please contact your local IWJ affiliate
to learn how you can support their actions. You can find a full list of IWJs network affiliates on
our website.

Local Wage Theft Legislation


Over the past several years, IWJ affiliates and allied organizations have passed dozens of local
ordinances and state laws to prevent wage theft strengthening the rights of workers and holding employers accountable for stealing from their workers. With each local ordinance or law
that passes through a city council, county board, or statehouse across the country, the possibility for strong federal wage theft legislation increase. If your organization, is interested in exploring a campaign for local wage theft legislation, IWJ can help!
To view a map of local wage theft victories across the country, please visit IWJs Wage Theft
website.

Interfaith Worker Justice

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

E. Messaging for the National Wage Theft Day of Action


Scope of problem
Wage theft costs working people in the United States more than $50 billion every single year.[1]
In comparison, all of the robberies, burglaries, larcenies, and motor vehicle thefts in the United
States cost victims less than $14 billion every year.[ibid]

Only a small fraction of stolen wages are recovered for working people each year, and in many
cases, the stolen wages are never reported at all.[ibid]

A 2008 study found that 26% of low-wage workers were paid less than the minimum wage. 76%
of those same workers were not paid overtime pay when working more than 40 hours per week.
[2]

There are many types of wage theft, including:[3]


Minimum wage violations
Overtime violations
Off-the-clock violations
Meal break violations
Paystub violations/Illegal deductions
Tipped job violations
Illegal retaliation
Misclassification of labor
How were working to fix the problem

Locally, IWJ affiliates are:


Training working people how to recognize and report wage theft
Exposing and holding accountable employers who refuse to fully compensate working
people for their labor

Educating the community about wage theft and bad local employers
Organizing to pass local, county, and state ordinances to enforce against wage theft
Building relationships with local Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division offices and
CORPS specialists to streamline reporting.

At the federal level, there are currently two bills before Congress that would help to fight wage

theft:
The Paystub Disclosure Act would set a national standard for how employers document their
payroll and give workers the right to inspect those records.
The Wage Theft Prevention and Wage Recovery Act would also create a national standard for
a paystub and would codify penalties for employers who engage in wage theft.

Interfaith Worker Justice

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Social Media Sample Posts


Facebook
Nationwide, wage theft costs working people at least $50 billion each year. Today, IWJ affiliates
from coast to coast are taking action to put a stop to this massive crime wave. http://bit.ly/
WageTheft2016
Combine all the property crime in the United States in a given year and it wont come close
to matching the wealth stolen from U.S. workers as a result of wage theft. http://bit.ly/
WageTheft2016
Wage theft accounts for tens of billions of dollars stolen from working people every year. But
most cases of wage theft, even when reported, are never resolved. IWJ affiliates across the
country are taking action today to change that. http://bit.ly/WageTheft2016
Take action online today as hundreds of leaders from across the IWJ affiliate network hit the
streets to end wage theft for good. Heres how you can help >> http://bit.ly/WageTheft2016
A national paystub standard would go a long way to stopping the multi-billion scourge of wage
theft. On this National Wage Theft Day of Action, call on your members of Congress to support
the Paystub Disclosure Act. http://bit.ly/WageTheft2016

Twitter
#WageTheft costs workers $50 billion a year. On this national day of action, learn how you can
take part>> http://bit.ly/WageTheft2016
#WageTheft is by far the most costly property crime in the U.S. each year. Will you do your part
to end wage theft? http://bit.ly/WageTheft2016
Take action online today as 100s of IWJ affiliate leaders hit the streets to end #WageTheft for
good>> http://bit.ly/WageTheft2016
Its not too late to tell your members of Congress to end #WageTheft, especially on todays
national day of action>> http://bit.ly/WageTheft2016

Dont forget to tell us how it went!


Wed love to hear how your action
against wage theft was influential.
Send photos and summaries to Ian at
IPajer-Rogers@iwj.org.

Interfaith Worker Justice

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Action Ideas

A. Letter to the editor/blog/op-ed


Letters to the editor are among the most widely read features in
any newspaper or magazine. They communicate your message to
a large audience. For more resources about how to write a letter to
the editor, visit the Community Tool Boxs chapter on Letters to the
editor. There you can find a checklist, examples and other tools.

Para ver la lista


de acciones en
espaol, haga
click aqu.

Quick Tips
Be quick: your first sentence should be an attention grabber and state your main point.
Be brief: check your newspaper/ magazine guidelines, but letters to the editor are typically
300 words or less. Avoid getting into the weeds of the issue.

Customize it: talk about the impact of your Worker Center or Faith & Labor group in your
community go local!

In the appendix you will find:


In-depth tips for writing letters that are more likely to be published
Examples of letters to the editor

B. Press Conference
Organizing a press conference is a great way to create your own news. The key is to find a good
hook that will draw the press. Things like having workers tell their personal stories; calling out
an unscrupulous business owner; or announcing the launch of a campaign to pass a local ordinance are all examples of great hooks that would likely catch the medias attention. Below are
some other tips for organizing a press conference.

In the appendix you will find:






Goal and Materials


Schedule of press turnout calls
Sample Press Advisory
Sample Press Release
Schedule for press conference

Interfaith Worker Justice

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

C. Wage Theft Community Forum


You can use the Wage Theft Toolkit as a resource to design and host a community meeting
with the purpose of engaging local businesses, organizations, faith leaders, and other community allies. Roundtable conversations like these help bring communities together to talk about
the problems people are experiencing in the community and to develop creative solutions, as
well as help educate a wider base about the issues of wage theft in their own community. It is
also a great opportunity to engage with any newly appointed faith leadership in the area and
have them be participants in the conversation. Community forums may be closed to invited
participants only, or open to the general public. Its also a great event to invite donors, elected
officials, and members of the press to witness.

In the appendix you will find:


A sample agenda for your own wage theft community forum
Ideas of discussion questions and resources you can use to help facilitate the conversation

D. Action tied to one of your own campaigns


Many IWJ affiliates are currently working on local campaigns on wage theft and worker rights.
If you are currently working on your own campaign on wage theft, think about how you can use
the National Wage Theft Day of Action strategically to move your campaign forward. This is
an opportunity to amplify your action and demonstrate how it is a national trend and not just
a local effort. We are demanding immediate change at the local level, while also standing in
solidarity at the national level. And dont forget to embed social media in your strategy.
For example, lets say your organization is currently leading a campaign to demand that
Company X is brought to justice and pays back its employees stolen wages, with interest. On
November 18, you can plan a protest in front of their office, and notify the local media of the
action. Your message might be: Its unjust and immoral that this business is getting away with
not paying their workers the wages they earned! Today, the National Wage Theft Day of Action,
we demand that Company X pays it employees what theyre owed.
Make sure to let IWJ know about your action. This step is critical to ensure that we are able to
connect affiliates with local supporters through the network-wide March on Washington. To
submit an action or event go here.

Join an action!
If you are not currently working on wage theft campaign, see if there is a way you could join an
IWJ affiliates local action to stand in solidarity with their work. Click here to view the list of local
actions across the country.

In the appendix you will find:


Action Links

Interfaith Worker Justice

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

E. Religious Resources
The religious resources can be used to do outreach in faith communities around issues of
wage theft or your specific Wage Theft Day of Action action; to educate your base and members
about multiple faith perspectives on wage theft; or as a resource for figuring out a religious/
faith-based perspective for your action. These resources can also be sent out to congregations
in your region to advertise your action and help introduce the concept of wage theft, and can
be used by congregations in worship services and text/bible study sessions over the weekend of
Nov. 18, or throughout the year.* Resources found elsewhere in this toolkit, such as Messaging
for the Wage Theft Day of Action and Wage Theft Community Forums, may also be useful in a
congregation or faith-community context.
*Note: National Wage Theft Day of Action is on a Friday. It may be strategic to partner with
mosques or synagogues in your area who have worship services on Friday, to bring this information directly to their congregants on the day of action.

In the appendix you will find:









Ideas for a Sermon/Speech in a Religious Context


Wage Theft Bible Study
Judaism and Ethical Working Conditions
Wage Theft Study Guide: A Muslim Perspective
Wage Theft Day of Action Sample Flyer
Responsive Reading
Wage Theft Solutions Bulletin Insert for NWTDA
Sample Resolution for Your Parish or Congregation

F. Canvassing
When used effectively, canvassing is an excellent tool to energize your base, get the word about
your organization, and recruit new supporters. Canvassing can be fun and exciting when you
have a clear plan. Here are some ideas on how you can you do canvassing on November 18 to
participate in the National Wage Theft Day of Action:

Do some canvassing outside a target for one of your campaigns and inform employees and
people at large about ways in which they can learn about wage theft

Visit some of the neighborhoods where you can find workers in need of information about
wage theft: day laborer corners, businesses with a history of worker abuse, community
events, etc.

Your conversations can be around educating people about what wage theft is. We found that
beyond the nuts and bolts of wage theft, people also want to know what to do about it; they
want concrete action steps. Think about your audience: are they faith leaders, community members or victims of wage theft? Make sure to customize your canvassing to your audience, and to
plan ways to engage them. Below are some of the tools you can find in the appendix. Please feel
free to customize!

In the appendix you will find:


Protecting your Rights in the Workplace: Your Responsibilities

This is a 1-pager about recording wage theft, and it was provided by Workers Rights Center
in Madison, WI. It is in English and Spanish

Wage Theft Canvassing & Community Outreach: this is a friendly first-time canvasser prep
tool that can help guide your canvassers on how to approach people on the street.

Interfaith Worker Justice

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

G. CORPS Meetings
Community Outreach and Resource Planning Specialists (CORPS) based in our offices
around the country are another critical resource. These specialists engage communities
in dialogue about local industry practices and labor concerns, and provide training and
resources to employers, their associations, worker advocates and other stakeholders.
U.S. Department of Labor
We are reaching out to CORPS specialists across the country to start to build a relationship
between the specialists and IWJ-affiliated worker centers and faith-labor groups. These relationships will help streamline the process for reporting workplace violations and giving the network
as a whole the opportunity to organize sustained national campaigns. The goal of these meetings is to build a proactive partnership between the Wage and Hour Divisions CORPS staff and
community partners that focus on action, not just education.
Members of the Wage Theft Working Group have reached out to you to schedule a meeting
with your CORPS specialist. If you are having trouble scheduling these meetings, one of the actions you can take on November 18 can be related to CORPS meetings. Here are some ideas:
1. Have a phone bank and make calls to your regional office
2. Send a delegation to your regional CORPS office
3. If you have been successful at getting in contact with your CORPS office, then schedule it
for November 18!
IWJ has developed a comprehensive toolkit for organizing CORPS meetings and cultivating an
ongoing relationship with CORPS officers. Click here for more information.

H. Write a letter to your Congressperson and/or


schedule a visit
As stated in the introduction of this toolkit, IWJ is supporting two important bills that were
introduced in Congress to address wage theft. Although these bills are unlikely to move before
the upcoming election and lame duck session, there are several reasons why you should still
aim to meet with Representatives and Senators:

Build relationship: if you have a good relationship with your Congressperson, it doesnt

hurt to meet with them and update them on the work you are doing, while also ensuring
that they continue to support you. On the other hand, if they are not supportive or unwilling to meet with you, then you may need to think about building capacity and planning for
the future.

Build capacity: what are the reasons why an elected official will not meet with you? It prob-

ably has to do with the fact that you dont have enough power to move them, so it is not
in their self-interest to meet with you. Or, they may meet with you and will not commit to
support your initiative. In either case, the point of meeting with them is to know where they
stand, so that you think about strategically growing and building power to ensure that your
issue becomes a priority to them. Use the Day of Action to take that first step to building
capacity by finding out where your Congressperson stands on the issues that matter most
to you.

In the appendix, you will find:


A sample letter you can use to send your Congressperson
A sample agenda for meeting with your Congressperson
Dont forget to tell us how it went! Send photos
and summaries to Ian at IPajer-Rogers@iwj.org.
Interfaith Worker Justice

10

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Appendices

Appendix A. Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor


Letters to the editor (LTE) are a great way to earn media and get your message out to a large
number of people. Below are a few tips you can employ to give your letter the best chance possible of being published.

Stay on a single message LTEs that get published are concise and to the point. You dont
have the luxury of making a comprehensive case.

Message, Evidence, Message This is the structure your letter should use. State your message, show your evidence, restate your message.

Be concise - The shorter and more concise your letter, the more likely it will be published.
Aim for between 150-300 words and remember: less is more.

Frame your LTE as a response Your letter will be more likely to be published if it is in di-

rect response to an article, editorial, or another letter that the newspaper has already published. Include the date and the headline of the piece you are responding to in your letter.

Know where to send your LTE Make sure you send your letter to the correct email ad-

dress; most newspapers have an email dedicated to LTEs. You can usually find where to
submit your LTE on a newspapers About or Contact Us sections of their website. If you
cant find it online, call the newsdesk and ask where to send.

Sample Letter to the Editor:


Dear Editor,
In response to your story about the construction workers who recovered backwages (15 construction workers recover $300,000 in back wages, October 20,
2016), I hope your readers are aware of the scale of the problem.
Wage theft is prevalent in the United States, and it must stop. The Economic
Policy Institute reports wage theft is costing workers more than $50 billion a
year. For a country that prides itself in its labor force and work ethic, we have a
long way to go to ensure protections for our most vulnerable workers.
In the Sacred Scriptures, we are called to not steal, lie or deceive one another (Lev.
19:11), so why is it that we stand still when workers accuse businesses and corporations of wage theft? Are these employers above the law? While candidates are
on the campaign trail, we call on communities of faith to ask the question, what
will you do to protect our workers from unethical business owners that cheat and
steal our wages? It is not enough for candidates running for office, whether that
be local, state or national levels, to preach in our places of worship if they do not
uphold basic moral values and actively stand against wage theft.
Interfaith Worker Justice Affiliates across the country are working tirelessly every
day to address this endemic against working people. On the November 18 Wage
Theft National Day of Action, worker centers and faith and labor groups will
educate their communities about how to address wage theft, and actively demand
businesses pay back what they owe workers. Find a local action to join at www.
IWJ.org.
Here are two more examples of LTEs that you can review before writing your own:

Wage-theft by employers needs legislative remedy


Wage theft is a Virginia problem
Interfaith Worker Justice

11

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Appendix B. Organizing a Press Conference






Goal and Materials


Schedule of press turnout calls
Sample Press Advisory
Sample Press Release
Schedule for press conference

Goal and Materials


Goal: Organize a press conference that communicates your message and is picked up by as
many media outlets as possible.
Materials for day of press conference:

Copies of press release Print out more than enough for each media outlet that you anticipate to show up.

Copies of speaker list Print out more than enough copies. This will help media spell
names correctly when reporting the press conference.

A podium A place for media to put their microphones and for your speakers to keep their
notes.

Schedule of press turnout calls


Call #1 After sending press advisory (1-2 days before event, call between 10 am11 am)
Hi, Im calling to see if you received our press advisory today about Mondays demonstration
outside Smiths restaurant?
[You may have to resend advisory or wait for them to check their email]
Do you think youll be able to send a reporter to the event on Monday?
[They probably will not be able to do more than assure you that it will go on their calendar at this
point].
Call #2 The day of the event (try to time your call after 10am and NOT during typical TV news
hours of 12 pm, 4 pm)
Hi, Im calling to see if youll be able to attend our event today at Smiths restaurant at 4 p.m.?
Well have restaurant workers sharing their stories about wage theft and will be available for
interviews. Well also have a group of about 50 people protesting with colorful signs. Will one
of your reporters be able to make it?
[You may have to resend advisory or wait for them to check schedule. If all you get is a maybe,
thats okay. Most often they will not be able to guarantee their attendance.]

Interfaith Worker Justice

12

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Sample Press Advisory


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: [Name], [Phone Number], [Email]

Workers will protest restaurant for stealing tips;


refusing to pay fair wages
Chicago Worker Center will demonstrate outside of Smiths restaurant
to demand end to wage theft
WHEN: November 18, 4pm-5pm
WHERE: In front of Smiths Restaurant, 500 N Michigan Ave
WHO: About 50 people from Chicago Worker Center, workers from Smiths restaurant
who have been victims of wage theft and allies.
WHAT: Demonstration and press conference for Smiths restaurant workers to share
their stories of being victims of wage theft; petition delivery to Smiths restaurant
management.
PHOTO OPS: Protesters with colorful signs; hundreds of signed petitions; Smiths
restaurant workers who have been victims of wage theft.
###

Sample Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: [Name], [Phone Number], [Email]

Workers organize rally to call out restaurant for stealing tips;


refusing to pay fair wages
Worker Center organizes demonstration outside of Smiths restaurant
to demand end to wage theft
CHICAGO (November 18, 2016) Today restaurant workers from Smiths restaurant
who have been victims of wage theft organized a rally with the Chicago Workers Center to expose the restaurants ongoing wage theft violations, including management
failing to turn over tips that servers have earned and forcing employees to clock out
before their work is completed.
Scores of working people, including employees of the restaurant and their supporters
will march in protest of the restaurants ongoing wage violations, workers will share
their stories and deliver a letter to the restaurants management, demanding an end to
wage theft.
Theres no excuse for failing to pay me for my work, says Anna Lopez, a server at the
Chicago restaurant. My twelve hours of work each day keeps my customers happy
and keeps the restaurant in business. I deserve to be paid for my time.
Wage theft costs working people billions of dollars every year. Most working people
never recover their stolen wages.
###

Interfaith Worker Justice

13

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Schedule for press conference


Before the event:

Arrive at the event location at least 30 minutes early to:


greet the media and distribute press release
let them know what the press conference staging will look like (i.e. where to set up their
cameras)

ask if media would like a one-on-one interview with any of the speakers
During the event:

Ensure media has everything they need to cover the story:


make sure sightlines are clear and that microphones are well-placed
be on call to answer any questions the media might have during the event
After the event:

Coordinate any one-on-one interviews


Email the press release to your media list

Appendix C. Organizing a Community Forum


Wage theft is all around us. The illegal underpayment and sometimes the nonpayment of
workers wages has unfortunately become an all-too-common experience for many workers.
Workers from all educational, ethnic and geographic backgrounds are experiencing wage theft
in various forms: employee misclassification, lost wages, adjusted timesheets, unpaid final
paychecks, and more. Roundtable conversations help bring communities together to talk about
the problems people are experiencing and to develop creative solutions.
In the case of IWJ affiliates that have been successful in passing local wage theft ordinances in
their respective cities and counties in recent years, the gatherings can focus on educating community partners and building support to better enforce wage theft laws. For those affiliates that
have just initiated local wage theft legislation, the gatherings can seek to increase local advocacy. And for affiliates who are not currently working in a legislative capacity, these conversations
can help introduce the concept and impact of wage theft in your community. These conversations could also be an opportunity to engage with other resources, such as IWJs Wage Theft:
Crime and Justice comic or selections from Wage Theft in America as a central talking piece.

Sample Participant List:






Respected local clergy


People who are organizing for better conditions at their own workplaces
Local bishop and/or archbishop - religious leaders in the community
Theologians & labor academics
Local community and labor organizers

Roles:
For your event, you may want to designate

A host, who will facilitate the conversation and keep the conversation on time
A note taker, who will capture quotes and important points for follow up (also useful for
live tweeting the event and posting to Facebook during and afterwards)

If necessary, a media liaison, who will interact with members of the press to help them set
up and provide information on the event as needed

A camera person, who will record the event, or stream it (for example, via Facebook Live)

Interfaith Worker Justice

14

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Sample Agenda:
1. Host Introduction: Host introduces themselves, and gives a brief background on what
brought them to this roundtable event.
2. Participant Introduction: Participants share their names, gender pronouns, organizations/
affiliations, and a bit about their interest in discussing wage theft
3. Ice-Breaker
4. Discussion: this will be the bulk of the time. Allow participants to respond directly to open
ended questions and respond to each other. Some sample questions:
a. How have you seen wage theft take place?
b. What role does your personal faith play in your decision to fight for justice?
c. (For clergy) What does your faith tradition say about organizing/wage theft/fair
wages?
d. (For workers) What has been your experience sharing the influence of your faith with
those you organize with? What has been your experience talking about organizing with
those who share your faith?
e. Seek reactions to the following statistics:
i. Wage theft is an insidious national crime. A comparison of wage theft to crimes
that are more well-known reveals wage thefts true magnitude and impact. U.S.
workers have an estimated $50 billion in wages stolen from them each year. Thats
more than three times the $14 billion lost in burglaries, larcenies, stolen cars, and
robberies.[1]
ii. In 2014, the average CEO made 373 times what the average worker in his company
was paid[2]. (So for every dollar you wouldve been paid for working at my company, I would take $373 as the CEO.)
f. This portion could also be an opportunity to discuss selections from Wage Theft in
America or Wage Theft: Crime and Justice.
5. Take Action!: How do we take action to curb wage theft in our community? (Here is the
perfect place to let everyone know how they can get involved with your local campaign, if
you have already launched one or are preparing to do so)
6. Closing: Thanks participants for attending and engaging in the discussion, summarize
main points, and close with a prayer, if youd like.
[1] Source: Economic Policy Institute http://www.epi.org/publication/epidemic-wage-theft-costing-workers-hundreds/
[2] http://www.aflcio.org/Corporate-Watch/Paywatch-2015

Interfaith Worker Justice

15

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Appendix D. Action Links


Below youll find links to register your event online, find other events in your area, and participate in the virtual March on Washington.

Click here to register and host your own event When you register your event, IWJ can help

recruit attendees by emailing people in your area. For events registered to affiliates, IWJ will
also share the names of those who take action online and live in your area for so you can
reach out to them.

Click here to find events in your area Find an event to attend, see if there are allies in your
community, or help promote your organizations event using this search tool.

Take action online Join the virtual March on Washington and tell your members of Congress to back legislation that would help end wage theft.

Appendix E. Religious Resources









Ideas for a Sermon/Speech in a Religious Context


Wage Theft Bible Study
Judaism and Ethical Working Conditions
Wage Theft Study Guide: A Muslim Perspective
Wage Theft Day of Action Sample Flyer
Responsive Reading
Wage Theft Solutions Bulletin Insert for NWTDA
Sample Resolution for Your Parish or Congregation

Ideas for a Sermon/Speech in a Religious Context


(Based on Sermon for a Christian or Unitarian Universalist setting Coalition of Immokalee
Workers Labor Day Worship Resources)
Take some time to answer the following prompts/questions. Reflecting on these components
can help you stitch together a compelling and personal account of why it is important for you
and the members of your community to take part in the National Wage Theft Day of Action.
1. Greetings and Thanks
2. What from your own life and experiences informs the work you do or your engagement
with wage theft work/campaigns?
a. Think about a specific personal anecdote or story
b. Was there a moment, incident, or conversation that brought you to this work?
3. How does your story relate to the broader landscape of wage theft and the fight for
workers rights in the U.S. today?
a. In this toolkit you can find data and statistics that may relate to your story, or
that members of your congregation may find particularly compelling.
b. You can also go to www.wagetheft.org for more information
4. What is wage theft?
a. Definition + Another short example
b. What are the many implications of this epidemic in the U.S. today?
5. How is wage theft counter to the principles of your faith?
a. Is there a selection in this weeks parsha/recitation/reading that speaks about
justice or something related to fair labor practices?
b. Do you have a particular verse that speaks to your own conception of justice?
6. How can the congregation take action around this issue?
a. And why should they? What calls you to involvement and what might call
them to involvement/allyship?

Interfaith Worker Justice

16

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

b. Invite them to take part in a very concrete action, ideally that they can do that
day and that can be showcased on Nov. 18, or an action on Nov. 18. What is
your organization doing for National Wage Theft Day of Action?
7. What do you think a world with justice and dignity for all working people looks like?

Wage Theft Bible Study


Introduction
According to Kim Bobos book Wage Theft in America, billions of dollars in wages are being
illegally stolen from millions of workers each and every year...Wage theft is when an employer
violates the law and deprives a worker of legally mandated wages (Bobo 6-7).
The following story is an example of employers committing wage theft:
Paul Strauss, a Chicago labor lawyer, tells the story of an asparagus packing house owner
in California. During the growing season, workers often worked seven days a week. In
order to avoid overtime, the employer required workers to bring him another persons
name and social security number. Then the employer would pay the one worker under
two names, thus ensuring, or so he hoped, that workers would not get overtime pay. On
payday, workers would each collect two different paychecks. When Strauss helped the
workers file suit, the employer quickly settled for $60,000 in back wages. (Bobo 28)

Opening Questions
1. What do you know about wage theft?
2. Have you ever experienced something similar in your own life?
3. Share about the time when you felt like you did not receive (or pay) a fair wage for your
(employees) work. How did you feel?

Texts
1. Deuteronomy 24:14-15 (NRSV)
You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy labourers, whether other Israelites or aliens
who reside in your land in one of your towns. You shall pay them their wages daily before sunset,
because they are poor and their livelihood depends on them; otherwise they might cry to the
LORD against you, and you would incur guilt.
2. Jeremiah 22:1-5, 11-17 (NRSV)
Thus says the Lord: Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word, 2 and
say: Hear the word of the Lord, O King of Judah sitting on the throne of David you, and your
servants, and your people who enter these gates. 3 Thus says the Lord: Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no
wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place.
4
For if you will indeed obey this word, then through the gates of this house shall enter kings who
sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their servants, and their
people. 5 But if you will not heed these words, I swear by myself, says the Lord, that this house
shall become a desolation.
For thus says the Lord concerning Shallum son of King Josiah of Judah, who succeeded his father Josiah, and who went away from this place: He shall return here no more, 12 but in the place
where they have carried him captive he shall die, and he shall never see this land again. 13 Woe
to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice; who makes
his neighbors work for nothing, and does not give them their wages; 14 who says, I will build
myself a spacious house with large upper rooms, and who cuts out windows for it, paneling it
with cedar and painting it with vermilion. 15 Are you a king because you compete in cedar? Did
not your father eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. 16 He
judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? says the Lord.
17
But your eyes and heart are only on your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood,and for
practicing oppression and violence.
11

Interfaith Worker Justice

17

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Discussion Questions
1. In the Exodus passage, Gods people are not to discriminate between an Israelite and an
immigrant or foreigner in paying the rightful share of workers wages . Do you see such
discrimination going on in your community/our society?
2. What comes to mind when you think about acting in a just and righteous way? In Jeremiah 22:1-5, it gives a definition for doing what is just and right. What is it? How do you
think your faith community does this? How do you think they fall short?
3. Jeremiah 22:13 says, Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper
rooms by injustice; who makes his neighbors work for nothing, and does not give them
their wages. Reading on to verse 14, what kind of mindset do you think God is condemning in these verses? What are the consequences of this kind of thinking in our society
today?
4. What evil practices counter the just and righteous acts according to Jeremiah 22:17? How
do you think these practices are carried out in our modern day society?

Bible Reflection
In the Jeremiah passage, Jeremiah starts out by addressing the wicked king of Israel, Jehoiakim
(608-597 BCE) who served for eleven years. He was open to idol worship and was boldly defiant
of God. Jeremiah warns him by mentioning his father, Shallum (v. 11 better known as Jehoahaz, his royal name, who ruled for three months in 608 BCE before he was taken to Egypt.)
Apparently, during those three months, he oppressed his people. He was so unlike the king
before him, King Josiah (639-608 BCE father to Shallum and grandfather to Jehoiakim), who
was a good and righteous king. God speaks very highly of Josiah by saying that he knew God.
For doing what? He defended the rights of the poor and needy (v. 16). We tend to think that
being a good Christian usually means praying and reading the Bible. If we go to church and pay
our due, we think we are somewhat being just and righteous. However, according to Exodus
11:3 and Jeremiah 22:16, God tells us that justice and righteousness are defined by how we treat
foreign laborers and how we defend the rights of the poor and the needy; justice and righteousness are dependent on how we pay our workers. It is particularly important that Exodus is
addressing Gods people and Jeremiah is addressing the king. Certainly, God is calling the faith
leaders to enact justice on behalf of the foreigners, poor, and needy. Can we rise up to the challenge and answer to the call?

Information and Statistics


Wage theft is widespread and pervasive across all types of companies. Various surveys have
found that:

60 percent of nursing homes stole workers wages.


89 percent of non-monitored garment factories in Los Angeles and 67 percent of non-monitored garment factories in New York City stole workers wages.

25 percent of tomato producers, 35 percent of lettuce producers, 51 percent of cucumber

producers, 58 percent of onion producers, and 62 percent of garlic producers hiring farm
workers stole workers wages.

78 percent of restaurants in New Orleans stole workers wages.


Almost half of day laborers, who tend to focus on construction work, have had their wages
stolen.

100 percent of poultry plants steal workers wages.


Although some of the worst wage theft occurs when immigrant workers arent paid minimum
wage or arent paid at all, the largest dollar amounts are stolen from native-born white and
black workers in unpaid overtime. (From Kim Bobos Wage Theft in America)

Interfaith Worker Justice

18

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Questions to Consider
1. What is most surprising about the above statistics? Why? How does it affirm what you
already know and how does it counter what you thought you knew?
2. Do you think Christians and churches need to get involved in the issue of wage theft? If
so, what are some of the ways you and your church can get involved?

Judaism and Ethical Working Conditions


by Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice
Judaism has a long history of support for worker justice. From earliest Biblical times through
today, the rights and welfare of the worker has been a central concern. The foundational story of
Judaism is rooted in the account of 400 years of slavery in Egypt that ended in the redemption of
the Hebrew people by Moses and Aaron. The experience of slavery colored the development of
Jewish identity and jurisprudence throughout the next three thousand years to the present day.
The constant refrain we read throughout the Biblical text, and repeated in the annual retelling of
the Passover story, reminds us to be kind to the stranger in our midst, for you were strangers
in the land of Egypt (Ex. 22:21 et al). From here evolves a body of law that today we characterize as social justice legislation, including justice for the laborer. For just as we Jews know what
it was to be enslaved in Egypt, so we should have empathy for the workers among us. Since we
know what it is to be oppressed, we should ensure that we do not become oppressors. Therefore, our tradition is filled with laws safeguarding the rights of the worker.
The Holiness Code of Leviticus 19 admonishes us The wages of a hired man are not to
remain with you all night until morning (Lev. 19:13). This command is given immediately after
the admonishment You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. In this context, it
becomes clear that failing to pay a worker right away is a form of oppression and the equivalent
of robbing him.
Our text from Deuteronomy amplifies and clarifies the reasoning behind the Leviticus verse.
14 Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is
a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. 15 Pay them their wages each
day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to
the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin. (Dt. 24:14-15).
Deuteronomy explains the vague requirement of the Leviticus text the employer is not just
forbidden to hold wages until morning, but more specifically, he must pay before the sun goes
down. Why is this timeframe important? Because, the text tells us, workers have no reserves
or other resources to pay their bills and meet their needs. A worker may not otherwise be able
to buy himself dinner, or pay for a place to sleep that night, unless he has received his days
wages. Nor does it matter if they are citizens or immigrants or strangers. All must be treated
with equal justice.
Jewish law did not stop with the Torah. The ancient rabbis from the second century BCE to the
sixth century CE argued and debated the meanings and application of the ancient text to changing times. Their debates were brought together in works known as the Mishnah (Teaching) and
the Gemara (Completion), together known as the Talmud. A tractate of the Talmud devoted
to tort law, Bava Metziah, issues a strict injunction against oppressing the worker One who
withholds an employees wages is as though he deprived him of his life (Bava Mtzia 112a). A
workers wages are the means by which she supports herself feeds, clothes, houses herself,
pays for health care. A delay in receiving wages could result in an inability to meet these basic
needs, a delay which could be life-threatening. And so, withholding wages becomes equivalent
to murder.
Withholding wages is not the only way in which an employer can abuse a worker. Jewish law
recognizes this and addresses other types of abuse. In another section of Bava Metzia, the issue of reasonable work hours is raised. If the employer says, I raised your wages in order that
you would begin early and stay late, the workers may reply, You raised our wages in order that
we would do better work (Bava Mtzia 83a). Clearly, the rabbis of antiquity understood that

Interfaith Worker Justice

19

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

wages alone are not the only issue involved in fair labor practices. Just because an employer
pays a worker, this does not entitle the employer to exploit the worker or treat the employee like
a slave. The employee must be allowed reasonable work hours that also allow for a life outside
of work. The employer is entitled to the best work the employee can provide, but only within the
confines of the normal work-day.
Concern for the worker continued into the middle ages. Rabbi Judah ben Samuel of Ratisbon
(Regensberg, Germany), writing in the thirteenth century in The Book of the Pious (Sefer Hasidim), understood that an employer is not entitled to harass, insult, or intimidate his workers.
Rabbi Judah wrote, To vex people who are coping with difficulties is an iniquity and a cause for
punishment. Those people (workers) are sufficiently burdened already, as a matter of course,
without that added affliction, as it is written in Lev. 25:53, you shall not rule over him (your
worker) ruthlessly.
In Judaism today, worker justice continues to be an issue of great concern. The Union for
Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (the professional organization
for Reform Rabbis) both have a long history of resolutions in favor of the right to organize,
fair labor practices, living wages, the end to sweatshops, and other issues. Resources
on worker justice from the Reform Movement can be found at http://www.rac.org/sitesearch?keyword=worker+justice

Questions for study:


1. Describe a time when you were mistreated in your workplace. How would you have liked
to change that situation?
2. In what ways is mistreatment of low-wage workers akin to slavery?
3. In what other ways could withholding wages equate with taking the workers life?
4. Read the story below. What is the connection between ethical eating and worker justice?
What are some ways we can take into account worker justice in our eating habits? Our
buying habits?

Interfaith Worker Justice

20

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Wage Theft Study Guide: A Muslim Perspective


By Imam Mahdi Bray
We at MAS Freedom (Muslim American Society) are deeply concerned with all forms of abuse
and injustice suffered by millions of working people in America. And among the most widespread and egregious forms of workplace abuse is the actual theft of wages from the pockets of
working people.
Just as the law of the Old Testament proclaims that Thou Shalt Not Steal, the practice of
wage theft is also contrary to the injunctions found in the Holy Quran, including that of Surah
(Chapter) 11, Ayah (Verse) 85, which clearly demands justice for those who toil:
And O my people! Give just measure and weight, Nor withhold from my people the things
that are their due: Commit not evil in the land with intent to do mischief.
For Muslims, the theft of any wages is not only a violation of civil law, but equally, it is a
violation of the commandment of the Lord of Creation to treat workers with fairness. Prophet
Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) stated:
Pay the worker while the sweat is still wet upon their brow.
Our faith, as Muslims, compels us to stand with all human beings, both Muslim and others,
who are treated unjustly. In the case of wage theft, this abuse can take on many manifestations, ranging from bosses who pay subminimum wages to their employees, to workers denied
proper compensation for overtime work, to those who are actually denied any compensation for
their labor because of they are terrorized for being, or for suspected of being, undocumented
immigrants in America. Yet, whatever the circumstances might be, the theft of billions of dollars in wages from workers in this society is alarming. And although people of diverse economic classes are affected by wage theft, all evidence proves that the most vulnerable and lowest
paid workers in society are the most likely to be victimized by this injustice.
Immigrants, agricultural workers, restaurant employees, working people who care for the sick
and the elderly, and persons employed by the poultry industry, are particularly vulnerable to the
theft of their wages. We stand in solidarity with the work initiated on behalf of working people
by Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ). This broad, interreligious coalition had taken this struggle
for justice from the factories and fields to the corridors of corporate power. This good struggle
must continue until fairness, equity, and justice are enjoyed by all those who bring food, clothing, shelter, and indispensable services to all the people of America.
Our work for justice is an affirmation of the principles of our faith, and the faith of all who believe in morality and goodness. We reaffirm today our continued support for, and involvement
in, this critical movement to end, for all time, the theft of the wages of American workers. S
urah
55, Ayah 7:
Establish weights with justice and fall not short of the balance.

Interfaith Worker Justice

21

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Sample Flyer (Pre-Nov. 18)

National
Wage Theft Day of Action
Friday, November 18, 2016
Help End Wage Theft in America
Our tradition teaches

that we must not steal, rob, or cheat,


that we must not harm the most vulnerable in our society,
that we must love one another as we love ourselves.

Our tradition teaches

that we must act.


On November 18, join:

as we

We will not stop until this multibillion-dollar


wage theft epidemic is defeated.

Interfaith Worker Justice

22

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Responsive Reading
This can be paired with the following Wage Theft Solutions bulletin insert and/or the prayer for
a more comprehensive insert.

Thou Shalt Not Steal


Loosening the Bonds of Injustice
We reflect today on our
role as people of faith.

God of Justice, loosen the bonds of


injustice
We pray for those employers who
victimize those most vulnerable. We
pray that they may hear the cries of the
victims of wage theft.

We are called by our texts to loosen the


bonds of injustice.
We look at our society and its inequality and poverty and know we must do
something But where do we start?
How do we act on our faith?

We seek justice for workers


We pray that our government agencies
and public servants become strong
advocates for victims of wage theft.

The commandment says: Thou shalt


not steal. However every day, workers in our communities are victims
of wage theft. They have their last
paychecks stolen, they are not paid for
the overtime they have worked, they
are asked to work off the clock and
are victimized because of the anxiety
they feel over their economic insecurity
or immigration status.

We seek justice for workers


We pray that worker centers and labor
unions continue to organize workers to
stand together against wage theft.
We seek justice for workers
We look at our economic conditions
and feel overwhelmed by the challenges of those seeking justice at work. We
want to overcome this anxiety, to take
action so that all who work will be paid.

God of Justice, loosen the bonds of


injustice

We pray for those who toil under the


promise of wages, later denied them by God of Justice, loosen the bonds of
employers who prey on their vulnerinjustice
ability.
We take the commandment Thou
God of Justice, loosen the bonds of
Shalt Not Steal into our hearts, and
injustice
we use it to guide our conscience, our
organizing, and our advocacy around
We pray for those workers who fight for wage theft in this country today.
their pay, under the threat of job loss,
intimidation, and physical violence.

Interfaith Worker Justice

23

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

between government agencies and community organizations. Agencies


that need to be at the table include the Wage and Hour Division of the
DOL; state Departments of Labor; OSHA and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (employers who steal wages are also likely to violate health and safety and anti-discrimination laws and regulations); and
county and municipal agencies that can help create innovative programs.
These agencies must collaborate with community based worker advocates,
labor unions, congregations and faith-based organizations (often the first
place workers turn for help), and academic partners.

Create meaningful wage theft prevention and enforcement partnerships

greatest stimulus for the economy would be for all workers to receive their
legal earned wages, which they would spend in their communities.

Educate and raise public consciousness of the crisis of wage theft. The

Interfaith Worker Justice and its network of more than 60 affiliated organizations call on Congress, the DOL, worker advocates, and the business community to take the following additional measures:

The DOL cannot enforce the law by itself. It must work in partnership with
worker advocates unions, workers centers, congregations groups on the
ground where workers go for help, that know who the bad companies are, and
that help workers fight for their wages. Workers also need some legislative
changes to protect them and strengthen wage enforcement. The Wage Theft
Prevention and Wage Recovery Act (HR4763), introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro in March 2016, amends the Fair Labor Standards Act so that employers
who commit wage theft in various forms are penalized appropriately. It will enhance the enforcement of wage laws and it gives the employee greater power
to gather evidence and file claims of wage theft. Tell your representatives today
that you support this bill, as one step towards ending wage theft in America.

topping wage theft nationally requires a strong commitment of will and


resources by leaders at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the agency
responsible for enforcing most of the nations workplace laws. Over the
last few decades, the departments staffing levels and overall approach to
addressing wage theft have not kept pace with the growing crisis. Rather than
focusing on industries known for wage theft, DOL enforcement staff has had a
complaint-driven approach, following up on individual complaints from workers. Although most workers dont even bother to lodge a complaint, the DOL
has been flooded with them. This complaint-driven approach has been frustrating for workers who actually file complaints, because the process is so slow
and the amount of money collected is often far less than workers are owed,
and has failed to punish those who steal wages in meaningful ways and turn
around major industries that have a business model based on stealing wages.

Wage Theft Solutions

Interfaith Worker Justice www.iwj.org

Spoken by Pastor Ron Adams, Madison Mennonite, at the rally on the Living
Wage Complaint Filing, Oct. 14, 2

May God our creator, the one who calls us, transforms us, and redeems us,
bless us with the courage, vision and strength to work for justice for all workers everywhere. Amen.

Worker God, who intends good for all your children, we seek your wisdom
and courage as we work to change the harsh conditions under which so many
labor. We ask that we might be your witnesses for good work, fair pay, and
human dignity. Amen.

A Prayer for Worker Justice

can check www.iwj.org to see what IWJ affiliates are in your area and how
they are taking action on National Wage Theft Day of Action and all year
round to end wage theft in America.

Act today! November 18, 2016 is National Wage Theft Day of Action. You

employees. Pay your workers what you owe them. Follow all labor laws
regarding minimum wage, overtime, workers comp, benefits, etc.

Pay those who work for your parish/church/synagogue/mosque as

theft. The greatest stimulus for the economy would be for all workers to
receive their legal earned wages, which they will then spend in your community. Know what businesses in your area practice wage theft, and be a
conscious consumer.

Educate yourself and help raise public consciousness of the crisis of wage

area. Find out how you can get involved in dissuading local employers
from practicing wage theft.

Partner with local worker centers and unions fighting wage theft in your

You can take action today in your own community:

flagrant perpetrators.

Assess meaningful penalties that would deter wage theft and punish its

DOL and community organizations have identified as willful, repeat violators. Wage theft occurs in every region of the country and all industries,
but is most prevalent in low-wage industries such as construction, poultry
processing, meat packing, retail, restaurants, landscaping, agriculture,
garment assembly, and day labor.

Conduct targeted investigations of industries and companies that the

provide workers with pay stubs that give complete information on the
number of hours worked and how pay and deductions were calculated,
and ensure meaningful enforcement of this law.

Pass the Pay Stub Disclosure Act (HR4376), requiring employers to

Wage Theft Solutions continued

Sample Resolution for your parish or congregation


GA-1326 (Sense-of-the-Assembly)
RESOLUTION CONCERNING WAGE THEFT
Adopted by the General Assembly
WHEREAS, the Bible commands employers to pay [workers] their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it; (Deuteronomy 24:15); and
WHEREAS, the Bible also warns: Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and
his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give
him his wages (Jeremiah 22:13); and
WHEREAS, our Lord, Jesus Christ, preached compassion and commitment for the poor; and
WHEREAS, working people are entitled to all of the wages they have earned; and
WHEREAS, wage enforcement policies express the moral values of the public, including our
valuation of honest work and honest pay; and
WHEREAS, private and public economic enterprises are responsible for and need to be held
accountable for paying workers all that they are due; and
WHEREAS, some employers seek to minimize labor costs, by withholding wages from workers
or committing payroll fraud; and
WHEREAS, wage theft occurs when workers are not paid all their wages, denied minimum wage
or overtime pay they are due, or are not paid at all for the work they perform or exploited by
employers wage theft among low wage workers is a well-documented epidemic; and
WHEREAS, in their events, congregations, ministries, organizations and institutions of the
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have significant purchasing power in sectors that are rife
with wage theft such as hotels, restaurants and catering firms;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples
of Christ) meeting in Orlando, Florida, July 13-17, 2013, invites and encourages all Disciples
congregations, organizations, ministries and institutions - including seminaries and divinity
schools - to address issues of wage theft biblically, theologically and ethically; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are
encouraged to support national, state and local legislation that provides means of protecting
workers from wage theft and prosecuting wage thieves.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
consider ways that they might unknowingly participate in wage theft by purchasing goods or
services produced or provided by workers who are cheated of their wages.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
are encouraged to support movements that address wage theft and cooperate with workers,
employers, labor unions and organizations that are working to secure greater justice in this
area; and
FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that all congregations, ministries, organizations and institutions of
the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will diligently strive to see that the businesses and/or
individuals with whom they contract are ethically treated and justly paid.
Pilgrimage Christian Church, Suitland, Maryland
http://disciples.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/GA1326-ResolutionConcerningWageTheftFinal.pdf

Interfaith Worker Justice

25

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Appendix F. Canvassing Tips and Resources


Protecting your Rights in the Workplace:
Your Responsibilities (English)
Keeping Records

[not all items will apply in all situations]


Keep ANY official correspondence you receive at time of hire:

advertisement or description of the job


letter of hire or employment agreement
employee handbook or Union contract
workplace policies and procedures
explanation of any benefit plans

Keep any correspondence you receive while on the job:

any modifications or changes to your benefit plans


performance reviews
letters of commendation or praise concerning your job
disciplinary notices or letters of reprimand
texts/ pictures/ emails/ WhatsApp/ Facebook,etc

Always keep track of the hours that you work:

keep copies of timesheets or a log of your hours worked


compare hours to your paystub when received
question any difference as soon as possible!
compare W2 received to hours actually worked

Problem Resolution

[be aware of possible time limits so dont wait to act!]


If you believe you have a problem on the job - such as not getting paid or being told to work in
unsafe conditions - and have been unable to resolve the problem, bring the following information with you to the ICWJ Workers Rights Center

date, time, and location of the incident


any conversations regarding the incident
was anyone else involved or treated the same way?
a group sometimes has additional protection/rights
names of any witnesses
what you have already done to remedy the situation

Interfaith Worker Justice

26

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Defendiendo sus derechos en el lugar de empleo:


Sus responsabilidades (espaol)
Guardando Documentos

[No todo aplica para todas las situaciones]


Se debe guardar CUALQUIER correspondencia oficial que recibe cuando consigue el trabajo:

anuncio o descripcin del trabajo


carta de aviso del trabajo o acuerdo de empleo (llamado Employee Policy Manual en
ingls)

manual de empleo o contrato sindical (llamado Union Contract en ingls)


procedimientos y reglas del lugar de empleo
explicacin de beneficios
Se debe guardar cualquier correspondencia que recibe mientras tiene el empleo:

cualquier modificacin o cambio de sus beneficios


informes de desempeo en el trabajo (llamados performance reviews en ingls)
cartas de reconocimiento por buen trabajo
notas disciplinarias o cartas de reprimenda
textos / fotos / mensajes de correo electrnico / WhatsApp / Facebook, etc

Siempre debe mantener anotaciones de las horas que trabaja;

mantener copias de listas de su horario o anotar las horas que trabaja


comparar las horas anotadas con el cheque cuando lo recibe
disputar o hacer preguntas sobre cualquier diferencia lo ms pronto posible!
comparar W2 que ha recibido con las horas que ha trabajado

Resolucin de Conflictos

[Debe estar consciente de posibles lmites de tiempo no debe esperar para tomar accin!]
Si usted cree que tiene un problema en el trabajo, por ejemplo, si no ha recibido el pago de las
horas que ha trabajado o que le enven a trabajar en condiciones peligrosas - y no ha podido
solucionar el problema, traiga la siguiente informacin al Centro de Derechos del Trabajador:

Interfaith Worker Justice

fecha, hora, y ubicacin del hecho


cualquier conversacin que tenga que ver con el acontecimiento
hay otra persona involucrada, o ha sido tratada de la misma forma?
un grupo de personas puede tener ms proteccin/derechos
nombre de cualquier testigo
qu ha hecho hasta ahora para solucionar la situacin

27

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Wage Theft Canvassing & Community Outreach


We are conducting outreach and canvassing to build support against wage theft. Each conversation is an opportunity to engage a new person in the work of our organization to improve our
community.

Canvassing and Outreach Conversations


1. The Approach
When were out there asking people to learn about wage theft, our approach is very important.

Dont wait for them to come to you. You have to go to them!


Smile, be friendly and make eye contact.
Get the clipboard in their hand! If they are holding it, you know they arent going anywhere.
Know your stuff. The more you know the issues youre talking about, the more people will
want to listen to you.

Explain who you are (worker, leader of faith, community member) and where you are coming from (organization, community, etc.)

2. The Reason
Explain why its important for our communities to address wage theft. Why are you out there?

Talk about the issues that you and your organization are working on.
Share stories
Make it personal! (Ex What would you do if your wages were stolen?)
3. The Ask
Once a person has stopped and listened to our issues ask them to take an action. This may be
to sign a petition, attend a meeting or join an action. In either case, think about how you are
building your base. Get contact information and build a list of supporters.

Interfaith Worker Justice

28

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Appendix G. Letter to/Visit your Congressperson


Use the text below as a model from which to compose your letter to your members of Congress:
Dear Senator/Representative [last name],
I urge you to support The Pay Stub Disclosure Act (HR 4376), recently
introduced by Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA). The bill is of paramount
interest to me as a member of a community impacted by wage theft.
Currently, there is no there is no federal requirement that employers give
workers pay stubs. Without a paystub, workers are not only at a disadvantage
in determining if they have been paid correctly, but without documentation,
they have difficulty proving the violation.
The Pay Stub Disclosure Act, proposed by Representative Bobby Scott, is a
common-sense piece of legislation that will help workers know their rights
to be properly paid, will give them the tools to ensure that they are being
compensated as they should be, and in if necessary, the proof and documentation they need to help recover stolen wages.
Respectfully,
[Your Name]

Visiting your Congressperson


Our Representatives and Senators need to be educated by their constituents. Your Congressperson needs to hear from workers who cannot pay their grocery bills because they have not
been paid. Your Senator needs to hear from worker advocates about all the effort it takes to get
workers their back wages, and how little help they have received from federal wage and hour
investigators. And they need to know that the religious community will not tolerate this abuse
and is standing with workers who just want to be paid for their labor. Your delegation may be
the first step in letting your representative and senators know about the epidemic of wage theft
and enlisting them to support legislation that will help workers and communities to fight back.

Hold a Pre-meeting
Arrange a time to meet for an hour or so before the scheduled appointment with your senator
or representative. Consider meeting at a restaurant, place of worship, or community center
near the senators office. At the pre-meeting, clarify the purpose of the delegations visit, select
a facilitator, note-taker, and timekeeper, review the proposed agenda, decide on who will say
what, and remind people that unity is important, so issues without consensus should not be
raised at the meeting.

Interfaith Worker Justice

29

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit

Sample Agenda (for a 45 minute meeting)


Opening (5 minutes)
Designate a delegate to open the meeting with prayer. (Be sensitive to interfaith repre

sentatives in the room.)


Have the facilitator thank the member of Congress (or legislative aide) for his or her
time and outline how the group would like the meeting to proceed. Provide agenda.

Introductions (5 minutes)
Each person should introduce himself or herself.
This is not a time to be humble! Give all relevant titles, community connections, and
reasons why you could influence other constituents.

Background (10 minutes)


This is a chance to educate your member of congress on the issue of wage theft,

hearing stories from workers and information about the extent of the problem for the
constituents of the senator or representative.
Interfaith Worker Justice and its affiliated groups can provide background on wage
recovery efforts in your area and the obstacles workers come up against when they try to
collect their wages.

Personal Accounts (10 minutes)


The rest of the delegates should describe their reasons for supporting wage theft legislation/campaigns locally and nationally.

Faith leaders can emphasize their religious traditions teachings about respecting human dignity and the rights of workers.

The Ask (5 minutes)


The meeting facilitator should ask the representative or senator if they will support cur

rent wage theft legislation. Are there questions or concerns that we can speak to?
Ask your member of congress to step up and sign his or her name as a co-sponsor of
the bill. The more co-sponsors, the better the chance of moving the legislation forward.
You can also ask your representative or senator to talk to other members or send them
a letter asking for them to sign-on as co-sponsors.

Discussion/Questions (10 minutes)


Open the conversation to allow the senator or representative to discuss his or her position, what s/he thinks can happen at this time and what role s/he intends to play.

Sometimes the member of congress will have questions. Answer them if you can. If not,

promise to get back to him or her with answers.


Ask when you can follow up to find out what his or her decision is.
If the senator or representative agrees to be a co-sponsor, thank him or her and ask
what other ideas s/he has for winning the votes of undecided members.

Closing (quickly)
Thank the elected leader for the meeting.
Confirm the next steps (such as that you will get back with information to answer a
particular question).

Close with prayer.

Dont forget to tell us how it went!


Wed love to hear how your action
against wage theft was influential.
Send photos and summaries to Ian at
IPajer-Rogers@iwj.org.

Interfaith Worker Justice

30

Wage Theft Day of Action Toolkit