There has been a lot of news coming out of St. Paul this week. Recently, House Republicans are pushing sweeping overhauls to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) to distract from their other destructive policies. Let me be clear, commissioners at the MSFA should not have used these tickets for their personal use and the chair and executive director have resigned surrounding the issue.
While I respect the chair and CEO’s decisions to resign we should not overhaul the MSFA so close to major international events like Super Bowl 52 and the Final Four.
Yesterday I was also proud to join Lt. Governor Tina Smith and other legislators to rally at the Capitol to stand up for workers who have been victims of wage theft.
Wage theft occurs when employers refuse to pay for work performed. Additionally, this occurs when employers violate minimum wage, prevailing wage, or overtime protections, when employers coerce employees to work off the clock, when they make unlawful paycheck deductions, or when they mis-classify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance. Last year, more than 39,000 Minnesotans were victims of wage theft, totaling $11.9 million in wages they worked hard for, but were never paid.
This year, a series of investments have been proposed and reforms have been introduced to crack down on this practice. These include a $1 million appropriation to the Dept. of Labor and Industry to enforce current laws, establishment of a clear definition of wage theft in law, and an increase in the fines for willful and repeated violations from $1,000 to $10,000. This practice is shameful. We must take it seriously and empowering workers with the protection and tools they need to stop it.
Please let me know if you have any issues that I can help you with as your State Representative.
Michael V. Nelson