The Houston Chronicle recently published an editorial supporting the pending Wage Theft ordinance before the Houston City Council. The board is honored to concur with that opinion, as we believe that Wage Theft is a significant issue which must be addressed by our government and stopped through all necessary means.
Wage Theft is typically defined as the illegal withholding of earned salaries or benefits of an employee. While this sometimes includes simply not paying an employee, it more often takes the form of not delivering promised overtime pay, giving wages illegally below the minimum wage or not extending earned benefits. In many cases, it affects undocumented immigrants. Thus, this crime often goes unreported and is woefully under-prosecuted.
When the Council first brought up this idea in July, this board predicted the solution would be both comprehensive and effective. Roughly six weeks later, amid steady criticism from centre-right Councilmembers such as Dave Martin, the proposal was shelved. Just last week, the proposal was delayed once again. Ostensibly, the ordinance should be voted on tomorrow, but considering recent events, we cannot be certain unless enough pressure is put on the Council.
The proposal would create a coordinator (Czar) to oversee and keep track of all instances of wage theft within the city. If an organization/company was found guilty of these actions, it would be blacklisted from ever receiving a contract from the City ever again. The complaint could be appealed and the blacklist is not irreversible.
This board believes that such a proposal is invaluable to the continued success of Houston. Being tough and punitive on criminal employers who steal from their employees is not anti-business; rather, it is just the opposite. Conservatives often point to the fact that we live in a voluntary economy, where employees choose to work at a specific establishment. The same applies, however, to the employers, who choose themselves to hire all of their workers. If they are unwilling to carry out the promised wages they agreed to, they must be punished.
The jury is still out on how much regulation the free market needs to work best, but simply to be functional, the free market must include a guarantee that contracts and agreements will be carried out. While the courts have often been the best recourse for this option, recent asinine actions by the Legislature, as well as the exuberant prices of adequate legal counsel, has made it significantly harder.
Protect the weakest in our community, and protect them with great zeal. Support the Wage Theft ordinance.
The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Olivia Arena of Austin, George Bailey & Noah M. Horwitz of Boston and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans.