After an impressive show of people power by CCI leaders, Hubbell Homes, one of the largest residential builders in central Iowa, said they will work with Iowa CCI to integrate anti-wage theft provisions and other worker protections into the company’s subcontractor agreements.

On August 30, a team of CCI leaders met with Rick Tollakson, president and CEO of Hubbell Homes, to negotiate a proposal for this company to adopt a policy that cracks down on wage theft and punishes unethical subcontractors that exploit their workers.

Iowa CCI members also won time at Hubbell Homes’ upcoming trade partners meeting to discuss the impacts and consequences of wage theft in our communities and businesses.

Some of the provisions from our proposal include:

  •  Tacking on our policy language on subcontractor agreements with Hubbell Homes, so if a subcontractor does business with Hubbell Homes, they have to abide by our proposed wage  responsibilities.
  •  Ensure subcontractor’s compliance with federal, state and city wage laws, as well as OSHA health and safety standards with regard to its workers.
  •  Commit subcontractor to be responsible timely payment of its workers, whether employees or sub-subcontractors.
  •  Expressly state that the consequence for non-compliant subcontractors is termination of contract with Hubbell Homes

“We do want to collaborate with Iowa CCI and appreciate the importance of subcontractors paying their employees and their sub-subcontractors,” wrote Dan Cornelison, VP and legal counsel of Hubbell Homes in an e-mail to Iowa CCI organizing staff.

Iowa CCI heard of 5 cases of wage theft by subcontractors on Hubbell Homes projects. We deal with the individual subcontractors separately, but this time we also went up the power tree to demand those at the top to stop doing business with shady entities that steal wages from workers.

Stay tuned to hear more about our upcoming actions to end wage theft in Iowa!

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  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
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LIKE and SHARE if you think a hard day’s work deserves a hard day’s pay!

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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  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
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LIKE and SHARE if you think Iowa needs to better enforce wage laws so all workers are paid fairly!

Our message for the Greater Des Moines Home Builders Association:  stop protecting unscrupulous employers from stealing wages with your inaction.

Yesterday 20 CCI members dropped by the Home Builders Association office to Executive Officer Creighton Cox to call Chris Kern, a subcontractor on one of the Home Show Expo houses, and tell him to stop ignoring his responsibilities as an employer and pay CCI member Roberto all of the money he is owed for his work with Double C Corp

Creighton was at the National Association of Home Builders Conference in New Orleans, and the woman who attended to us preferred to call the police instead of speak with our members or read our letter. To get Creighton’s attention CCI members “tweeted” messages to him, asking him to take action against wage theft.

Still, our members were firm in their commitment that the corporations at the top of the construction industry need to take responsibility and stop wage theft on their projects.  We went to reclaim Roberto’s payment, but also demand changes that will benefit and protect all workers. As CCI member Pedro said yesterday:

“This way the businesses will know that we the workers aren’t stupid.  We support each other.”

 

We went directly to the HBA because Chris only responds to pressure from the people who give him jobs, Grand Homes and Renovations and other members of the Home Builders Association.  He only answered our calls after we went to pass out flyers at the Home Show Expo several weeks ago. He knew he owed Roberto money and told CCI he would meet with us the next day, but he had to rearrange his schedule and he would call us back.  Since that phone call two weeks ago, Chris has not called us back or answered any of our calls back.

Our power analysis of the Home Show Expo wage theft case.

 

So, we’re climbing the power tree!

When the HBA washes their hands of wage theft that happened on a home in their own Home Show Expo, it allows Double C Corp and other subcontractors to steal wages from their workers with impunity.  We hold our businesses in Iowa to a higher standard.  Wage theft is rampant in the new home construction industry, and its time for the home builders to take a stand against worker abuses.

Will you contact the Home Builders Association and Grand Homes and Renovations about wage theft on their entry in the Home Show Expo?

  1. Creighton Cox, Executive Officer of HBA Des Moines
    (515) 778-5516
    ccox@desmoineshomebuilders.com
    The HBA needs to take responsibility and call Chris Kern and tell him to pay his workers.  They should not tolerate wage theft, especially on a house they use to showcase the best of the best. Let Creighton Cox know you think its a shame the HBA is showcasing wage theft and that he needs to work to resolve this problem ASAP.
  2. Carrie Norris, Grand Homes & Renovations
    (515) 967-6195
    carrieknorris@yahoo.com
    Carrie is an owner of Grand Homes & Renovations, who built house #7 and hired Chris Kern to do the roof.  CCI staff have spoken with Carrie and she called Chris once, but she needs to take the problem more seriously and ensure that Chris pays his workers. Carrie is also the Vice President of the HBA of Greater Des Moines.
  3. Chris Kern, Double C Corp
    515-202-4768
    See if you can get Chris on the phone and tell him to meet with CCI! Our calls so far have not been answered or returned.
After you’ve made a call or sent some emails, let us know how they went!

 

Check out more pictures:

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  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
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Share this information with your friends and family if you think Iowa should defend workers’ rights, not showcase wage theft.

This past Saturday Iowa CCI members were out in the heat at the Des Moines Home Show Expo – but not to see the houses.

We visited the Home Show Expo in Ankeny to stand up for worker justice in Iowa by informing Iowans that two roofers still have to be paid for their work installing the roof of one of the houses in the home show. We passed out flyers in the Home Show parking lot for over an hour and talked with a lot of concerned people.

Here’s a report from CCI member and Ankeny resident Gini Wolf about her day:

I had great responses from the people I spoke with.  A couple of guys said they had done roofing – they won’t work unless they get paid daily.  Another fellow identified himself as a laborer and was sympathetic.  Another group of men identified themselves as contractors – and they know that this situation happens sometimes.

The situation on House# 7:

4107 NE Bellagio Circle by Grand Homes and Renovations: The workers who installed the roof have not been paid by their employer, Chris Kern of Double C Corp.

Chris has not answered our calls or letters and Iowa Workforce Development is now investigating unpaid wages for work on this property.  We will fight to win the wages for our members, but this instance also begs the question: How many other homes in the Home Show Expo have left workers waiting for wages?

Photo of 4107 NE Bellagio Circle after the worker finished his roofing job.

The Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Des Moines — and Grand Homes and Renovations — should not allow wage theft on their projects, plain and simple.  When we asked a representative from the Home Builder’s Association to call Chris and tell him to pay his workers, he refused.  They don’t think it’s their problem – but when they showcase a house built with wage theft – it becomes their problem.

 

You can stand up to wage theft too, just like the members who talked with Home Show go-ers on Saturday.  Three people need to hear from you:

  1. Creighton Cox, Executive Officer of HBA Des Moines
    (515) 778-5516
    ccox@desmoineshomebuilders.com
    The HBA needs to take responsibility and call Chris Kern and tell him to pay his workers.  They should not tolerate wage theft, especially on a house they use to showcase the best of the best. Let Creighton Cox know you think its a shame the HBA is showcasing wage theft and that he needs to work to resolve this problem ASAP.
  2. Carrie Norris, Grand Homes & Renovations
    (515) 967-6195
    carrieknorris@yahoo.com
    Carrie is an owner of Grand Homes & Renovations, who built house #7 and hired Chris Kern to do the roof.  CCI staff have spoken with Carrie and she called Chris once, but she needs to take the problem more seriously and ensure that Chris pays his workers. Carrie is also the Vice President of the HBA of Greater Des Moines.
  3. Chris Kern, Double C Corp
    515-202-4768
    See if you can get Chris on the phone and tell him to meet with CCI! Our calls so far have not been answered or returned.
After you’ve made a call or sent some emails, let us know how they went!

 

Pictures from Saturday:

 

FUN!

 

Learn more

Join the Fight

  • Join as an Iowa CCI member today or chip in $10 to support our organizing on this issue.
  • Sign up for our E-Mail Action list to get the latest updates.
  • Follow us on Facebook and  Twitter for more fun photos and live action updates.

 

Share this information with your friends and family if you think Iowa should defend workers’ rights, not showcase wage theft.

CCI members Elvira Guerrero and Nataly Espinosa had the opportunity to participate in a Latino Leaders Roundtable with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis held at the United Way in Des Moines last Friday.

The meeting focused on listening to concerns and questions from Latino leaders who are in touch with the Latino workforce every day.

Elvira and Nataly told Secretary Solis that we have been working closely with the Dept. of Labor’s wage & hour division since 2010 through our organizing to tackle wage theft – including recovering more than $130K in wages for workers. We acknowledged DOL’s good work and asked Secretary Solis to consider allocating more resources to the DOL’s district office in Iowa.

We also told her that discrimination at the workplace targeting Latinos is still a serious problem, especially with the emergence of “English-only” rules imposed by some workers, which violates Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act.

Solis commended our work and said to keep coming forth with these issues, as this is the only way we can keep solving them.

Photo: Elvira, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Nataly.

 

 

This morning, two members of our worker justice program were each awarded $5,000, for a total of $10,000, in wage claims and liquidative damages by a Polk County small claims judge.

The wage claim case, prosecuted by Iowa Workforce Development (IWD), sought to retrieve $6,166 in wages stolen by Concept Painting & Drywall, owned by Randy Warrens.

Iowa CCI organized with the two workers and used many avenues before IWD brought the case before a judge.  We delivered a letter to Randy Warrens at his house in January asking for a meeting, which Randy refused.  We met with the general contractor on the case, Hubbell Homes, after which they told Randy to stop making his problem their problem. And we brought up the Concept Painting & Drywall case with the Commissioner of Labor Michael Mauro in a meeting in February.

Despite having met yesterday with IWD’s prosecuting attorney Mitchell Mahan, and speaking with him this morning, Warrens failed to appear at today’s hearing. The judge examined the evidence and claims brought by the workers and IWD. In addition to the evidence, seeing that Warrens defaulted on the hearing, the judge concluded that each of the workers should be awarded the sum of $5,000 for liquidative damages. Warrens will also be responsible for all court fees.

“With this victory, employers like Randy will know that workers are not just going to sit down and take abuse,” said Jose, one of the affected workers and an Iowa CCI member. “We will not accept anything other than justice.”

Though it is possible that Concept Painting & Drywall may set aside the default, the judge seemed convinced in standing for worker justice and awarding the workers for their rightful claims.

This win shows that the one-two punch of community organizing and a government that works for people will deliver justice!

Iowa CCI’s worker justice program unites and empowers the community to stand against worker abuse and fight for what’s right. CCI members incessantly work against violations on the job and wage theft. To this day, Iowa CCI has recovered over $135,000 in stolen wages across Iowa.

 

Click “LIKE” and “SHARE” to spread the good news and stand for worker justice!