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The Source: Combating Wage Theft In Texas

Providence Public Library (flickr.com)

Last week the City of Houston adopted a strict ordinance that will disqualify businesses found guilty of criminal wage theft from city contracts or from operating in the city.  Officials have said criminal convictions rare in these instances, but the city contends it makes a powerful statement.

Wage theft affects the low-income, immigrant, and wage earners, and across the country and here in Texas to the tune of billions of dollars in lost wages. In one large-scale 2009 study of employees in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, more than a quarter of all low-income workers were paid less than minimum wage and over 75 percent who worked overtime weren't paid for it.

In 2011, the State of Texas adopted a law that allows local law enforcement to intervene against employers who don't pay their workers, which resulted in the indictment of an employer by an El-Paso task force.

Cristina Tzintzún, executive director of the Workers Defense Project, joins us to talk about their efforts to educate law enforcement on these issues.

We talk with Houston City Attorney David Feldman about the new ordinance and what they hope will come out of it.  

Also on the show, we speak with Cynthia Ramos, director of the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division here in San Antonio. Claire Rodriguez, an attorney with the San Antonio office of the  Equal Justice Center, tells us what they are seeing here in San Antonio.

Have you experienced wage theft? What is Texas doing about it?

* The Source airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM - audio from this show will be posted by 5:30 p.m.

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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive