What is NYSA628/S579 (The SWEAT Bill)?
The SWEAT bill will:
- Expand New York’s mechanics’ lien law to include all workers – Establishes a “wage lien” so that workers can put a hold on employers’ property until their owed wages are paid. The measure would also create an alternative right of action by the DOL or NYS Attorney General to file a wage lien on behalf of claimants who they have determined are owed wages.
- Amend New York’s existing attachment provisions to make it easier for workers to attach an employer’s assets at the start of litigation before the property can be sold or transferred, using the standard currently in Connecticut law; and
- Improve the procedures for holding the largest shareholders of privately held corporations and limited liability companies personally liable for wage theft. Current law allows for the largest shareholders of corporations and members of LLCs to be held accountable, but only if workers follow complicated procedures.
Talking Points for why we need SWEAT
- NYS Can’t Afford to Ignore Wage Theft – Each year over $1 billion is stolen in wages in New York State. Many workers do not receive the minimum wage even after recent wage increases. This means we lose over $1 billion of valuable income that could be used to stimulate consumer spending, and boost New York State’s tax revenue, but is instead being pocketed by unscrupulous employers. If we do not pass the SWEAT bill, any minimum wage increase will only increase the amount workers are owed but don’t get.
- Wage Theft is a Widespread Problem – Some think only low-income, immigrant workers experience wage theft. However, wage theft is something experienced by many workers, including native born, English-speaking, union and higher wage workers who are not paid overtime, or forced to work off the clock.
- The SWEAT bill only affects law breaking employers – An employer who cheats their employees creates unfair competition to those who want to follow the law. SWEAT only costs additional money for those bad apple employers who are actually stealing workers’ wages.SWEAT would address income inequality and poverty, allowing employers trying to comply with the law not to be undermined by law-breaking employers.
- The SWEAT bill creates new tools for workers and the government to combat wage theft – SWEAT stops criminal employers from hiding their assets when workers assert a claim. . It also will give the Department of Labor and the State Attorney General tools to secure an employer’s assets before going through an entire court proceeding.
- The elements of the SWEAT bill have worked in other states – Provisions like SWEAT have proven effective in other states. Connecticut has an attachment provision; Wisconsin and Maryland have wage lien provisions. These are not experimental ideas, but effective tools to combat wage theft.
- SWEAT will improve the economy – By giving workers these new tools, workers will be able to collect their stolen wages, and employers will be deterred from stealing wages. This will be a huge boost for the state. Fewer workers will have to depend on state public assistance, the state will see increased revenue from payroll taxes, and increased consumer spending. Most importantly, workers will actually be able to receive the $15 minimum wage increase.
Write a Letter or Call Your State Elected Officials to Support NYS A628/S579
NYS A628/S579 (Secure Wage Earned Against Theft, ‘SWEAT’ bill) will greatly improve workers’ ability to secure owed wages by closing loopholes in the law that allow law-breaking employers to avoid paying on court judgments and orders by the Department of Labor. We are asking you to write a letter or make a call to your State Assembly member and Senator to urge them to pass the SWEAT bill immediately.
How to write a letter:
A personal letter to your State Senator and Assembly member urging them to support SWEAT will go a long way. Don’t know your State elected officials? Go to http://www.elections.ny.gov/district-map/district-map.html#/?radius=1
Include the following bullet points in your letter:
-Introduce yourself explaining that you are a voter in his/her district and any organizational affiliations or connections to the member you have.
-Ask them to sponsor the bill and to support the SWEAT Bill (A628/S579) so it can pass as soon as possible. Our bill already passed the Assembly last year so you can also thank your Assembly member.
-State why you feel it is important to pass the bill with a few supporting facts to make your case. See talking points if you need some ideas!
How to make a call:
Call the Senate and Assembly switchboard and ask for your representative.
Senate: 518-455-2800 Assembly: 518-455-4100
Here’s a sample of what you can say:
“I am a constituent and I (state your connection to the issue of wage theft). I am calling to ask Senator (insert name) to sponsor S579 and support the bill so it can be passed as soon as possible. This bill will strengthen the existing law to help workers collect stolen wages. Wage theft is rampant in New York and exploitative employers too often hide or transfer their assets to avoid paying wages they have stolen from their employees. Even when workers win a court-awarded judgment, they are often unable to collect the money owed to them. This bill will help change that.”
Take another step! Write or call Albany leadership and urge them to pass the SWEAT bill now!
|Senator John J. Flanagan Rm 330, State Capitol Albany, NY 12247 518-455-2071||Assemblymember Carl E. Heastie LOB 932 Albany, NY 12248 518-455-3791||Senator Jeffrey D. Klein LOB, Room 913 Albany, NY 12247 518-455-3595|