Grocery Workers Union Slams Senate Budget Resolution for Siding With Criminals

Repeal of Wage Theft Prevention Act Favors Only the Guilty

WESTBURY, NEW YORK (03/13/2012)(readMedia)– New York State’s largest grocery workers Union criticized yesterday’s State Senate budget resolution for including the full repeal of the Wage Theft Prevention Act. The Wage Theft Prevention Act was passed in 2010 and increased penalties for employers who fail to pay their employees their proper wages. The Senate voted last week to begin repealing portions of the bill,

“The Republican Party in New York has proven that they believe the only way for New York to be open for business is if employers feel comfortable that they can get away with stealing from their workers” said Patrick Purcell, spokesperson for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, the lead Union in the campaign to pass the WTPA in 2010.

“Part V, under the New Jobs New York section of the Senate budget proposal, seeks to repeal the Wage Theft Prevention Act of 2010 because it is, according the Republicans, a costly mandate on NY employers. The absurdity of this proposal is that the WTPA is only costly to the employers who steal. So for the first time in recent history, the Republican Senate has decided to act on behalf of actual thieves. Dead beat employers all over New York State should sleep soundly knowing Republican Senators such as Jack Martin, Marty Golden, Kemp Hannon and Lee Zeldin are looking out for their interest,” Purcell stated.

Last week the State Senate voted to repeal the annual notice portion of the Wage Theft Prevention Act, a one page document an employee must sign to acknowledge the wage that has been promised them by their employer.

“Clearly the Republican Senators have discovered the hidden reason some New York businesses are struggling in today’s economy. It is the tremendous burden of this one sheet of paper their employees must fill out once a year,” Purcell claimed. “Perhaps if employers were not required to get this one-sheet of paper filled out, the economy could move forward and good business owners like Mario Batali and Moutaz Ali can get back to turning profits while robbing their workers of their earned wages,” Purcell concluded.

Last Thursday, Batali was ordered to pay $5.25 million to 1,100 workers in seven of his restaurants who claim to have been cheated out of tips. Also last week, Moutaz Ali, owner of Veranda Restaurant in Greenwich Village agreed to pay $150,000 in restitution for employees who were paid below the minimum wage and did not receive overtime pay as required by law. In addition, the eatery was ordered to pay out $50,000 in restitution for damages, lost wages, and penalties for wrongfully terminating the two complaining workers.

UFCW Local 1500 represents 23,000 grocery workers in New York State. Members are employed by Stop Shop, Shop Rite, Pathmark, King Kullen and Fairway. Their members live and work in Long Island, the five boroughs, Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties.

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