Truck drivers and warehouse workers employed by federal contractors at the Port of Los Angeles are striking for 48 hours to draw attention to wage theft and other violations.
Good Jobs Nation estimates workers are losing millions of dollars in pay every year and the organization has launched a special hotline, 1-844-PAY-FAIR, to report wage theft.
The workers are employed by companies that contract with the federal Department of Defense. They say they have been misclassified as “independent contractors,” had their wages stolen and have been retaliated against for exercising the right to organize.
“We are on strike today for issues including respect and wage theft,” Jaime Martinez, a port worker, employed by K&R, a federal contractor for 19 years, told reporters.
“We earn very low wages, with no benefits and no worker’s compensation because we are classified as independent contractors.”
On Tuesday, President Obama’s Fair Pay & Safe Workplaces Executive Order protecting low-wage workers on federal contracts was scheduled to take effect. The Executive Order requires contractors to report when they are found in violation of wage theft and other labor laws and regulations. The government can use this information in the decision-making process for awarding contracts.
However, those requirements were held up when a Texas judge ordered a nationwide preliminary injunction that temporarily blocks these provisions. The judge's order, which likely will lead to a lengthy fight in the courts, does not affect the part of the Executive Order that requires contractors to provide workers with pay information in an effort to prevent wage theft.
Good Jobs Nation marked the occasion by launching a first-of-its-kind National Wage Theft Hotline, where workers employed by federal contractors can report wage theft and get legal defense against it.
"Good Jobs Nation's legal team has found that many federal contracts are awarded to irresponsible firms that routinely trample the rights of workers,” said Joseph Geevarghese, national campaign director for the organization, which represents more than two million low-wage, federal contract workers.
“Over the last three years Good Jobs Nation has filed legal complaints on behalf of over 1,500 contract workers at the Senate, at the Pentagon and other national landmarks in order to recover over $5 million in stolen wages and damages,” he said.
The federal contractor wage theft hotline number is 1-844-PAY-FAIR.