Report unveils depth of wage theft in Iowa

Can you believe that each year Iowa’s workers could miss out on $600 million in wages, and that Iowa Workforce Development only employs one investigator to enforce our state’s wage law?

Day in and day out Iowa CCI organizes low wage workers to reclaim their hard earned wages and we know how serious the problem is.  That’s why we worked with the University of Iowa Labor Center and the Iowa Policy Project to do the research and find the hard numbers. The Iowa Policy Project analyzed state and federal data and came to the same conclusion that Iowa CCI has been pushing for two years – we need stronger enforcement of labor law to ensure Iowa’s workers are paid fairly.

Give yourselves a round of applause! Iowa CCI is leading the charge to tackle wage theft and our organizing has raised the issue with state legislators, employers, and the general public.  This report is yet another tool we can use to ensure all workers are paid just wages for their hard work.

Here is a short summary of the IPP’s findings:

  • Wage theft causes low-wage Iowa workers to miss out on an estimated $600 million in wages each year.
  • Wage theft may be costing the state at least $45 million annually in unpaid tax revenue plus another $14 million in lost revenue to the state’s unemployment fund.
  • Iowa’s commitment to enforcing wage and hour laws lags far behind national and regional peers. Iowa employs just a single investigator, who is responsible for enforcing the law for 1.2 million private-sector workers.
  • Wage theft is disproportionately affecting workers in certain sectors of Iowa’s economy, including restaurants, construction, small businesses and the meatpacking and food processing industry.
  • Wage theft is having a disproportionate impact on Iowa’s growing low-wage workforce and on immigrant workers.

Download the full report here

The report explains the depth of Iowa’s wage theft problem, which industries are most heavily affected, the lack of effective enforcement measures, and used case studies (many of which came from Iowa CCI members) to tell the story of wage theft.

At the end the IPP gives recommendations – improving state labor law, strengthening enforcement, and building community partnerships – all solutions that Iowa CCI has been pushing for since the start of our worker justice campaign.  This year at the state capitol Iowa CCI Action Fund worked with legislators to introduce wage theft protection bills and increase funding for investigators, both solutions mentioned by the report, but neither of which passed through the legislature.

Read the Des Moines Register Article: Wage ‘theft’ tab in Iowa: $600 million

 

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