Union leaders join fight for local wage-theft lawby Jennifer Sorentrue | March 5th, 2012
Palm Beach County union leaders have teamed up with members of the religious community to urge businesses to stop pushing for a state law that would prevent local governments from enacting rules that help workers who have been cheated out of pay.
Pat Emmert, president of the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast AFL-CIO, and Dwight Mattingly, president and business agent for the Amalgamated Transit Union #1577, took aim at the Florida Retail Federation and other business lobbies today for supporting the legislation.
Under the state proposal, Palm Beach County and other local governments would be unable to create an out-of-court system to help resolve wage disputes between workers and their employers.
The “wage theft” bill (HB 609) was one of a series of measure approved by the Florida House last week. similar Senate bill (SB 862) appears to be in trouble in the Senate.
Emmert said she often receives calls from workers who have been “ripped off” by their employers, but she is unable to help them.
A local law that establishes a non-judicial system to resolve wage disputes would give workers the recourse they need, she said.
“I get calls from workers that are not union members because they are desperate,” Emmert said. These people call ill afford to lose a day’s pay.”
Members of PEACE, or People Engaged in Active Community Efforts, have been pushing Palm Beach County commissioners for more than a year to approve an ordinance mirroring a Miami-Dade County law. Commissioners are expected to discuss the issue at a meeting this month.