The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
New York State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12247
Re: Sign the SWEAT (Securing Wages Earned Against Theft) Bill (A.486/S.2844) Now!
Dear Governor Cuomo,
We, the undersigned organizations, write to urge the signing of the SWEAT bill (A.486/S.2844). We are unions, worker centers, legal services providers, religious organizations, high-road business organizations, and others concerned with securing justice for New York’s workers, especially those who are most marginalized and subject to exploitation.
Wage theft remains rampant all over New York State. Workers toil long hours for less than minimum wage or without getting overtime pay, or they work off the clock or suffer unlawful deductions and kickbacks to the employers, or their employers unlawfully take a portion of their tips. When, at great risk to themselves, they come forward to complain, it takes years of effort to obtain a court judgment in their favor. By that time, they are unable to collect on those judgments, because their employers have shut down their businesses and transferred their assets to family members or friends to evade collection. The same employers who cheated their employees in the first place show no shame in hiding their assets when they are ordered to pay by a court.
As a result of this ability to evade judgments, wage theft has become a profitable business model in too many industries. Wage theft and judgment evasion have created an unfair competitive advantage for the most unscrupulous employers.
SWEAT would help reverse this situation by creating effective enforcement tools for collecting on wage theft judgments. By making collections possible, SWEAT would also counter the fear and intimidation fueled by Trump’s administration to keep workers from speaking out against abuses. Perhaps most importantly, the SWEAT Act will help employers who follow the law and are unfairly undercut by those who do not. It will protect the honest employers and send the message that NYS stands behind businesses that abide by our state’s laws. NYS would not be alone and be joining states like Connecticut that have laws to protect workers against such tactics to evade responsibility.
We urge you to act promptly to stop a rampant problem with an estimated $1 billion stolen from workers in NYS each year. Under your leadership, NYS created a Task Force to root out worker exploitation. We ask you to build on your past actions and sign the SWEAT bill into law so workers, the Department of Labor and the Attorney General have additional tools to root out that exploitation. We hope that you will sign the SWEAT bill immediately.
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