Can it be that they will coddle the thieves?

Chuck Sheketoff

As Monday came to a close, much to the chagrin of a coalition working to protect Oregon workers, the House Business and Labor Committee had not scheduled a hearing or work session on SB 612, a bill that would make it harder for labor brokers in the construction industry to steal the wages of workers.

While no bill is officially dead until adjournment sine die, the failure to get a hearing scheduled by Monday makes enactment of the protections in SB 612 less likely.

Without the modest reforms in SB 612, a great many construction workers will continue to get stiffed.

Earlier this week, OCPP published a new analysis of wage claims filed by construction workers with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries over a four-year period ending June 2010.

Among our findings, we discovered that construction workers filed 1,823 claims for unpaid wages totaling $5.2 million during the four-year period.

The figures certainly don’t capture the full extent of the problem. The data only includes the share of construction workers with wage claims who knew about BOLI and sought the bureau’s assistance despite the possibility of employer reprisal. That’s why we call it The Tip of an Iceberg.

I previously wrote that when it comes to SB 612, the question before the legislature is simple: Are you going to coddle those who steal millions in wages or are you going to stand up for Oregon workers and honest businesses?

Can it be that this legislature will actually choose to coddle the thieves?

Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at

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    Chuck, We know there are lobbyists in the Capitol building working to protect wage theft, but hang in there! This is a vital issue and more people than we might think personally know workers who have been cheated. They just need to learn about SB 612.

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