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Mitch Perry Report for 3.2.15 — Local leaders want to get serious about addressing wage theft

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Welcome to March, where the weather is warming up and so are the politics: In Washington, where Benjamin Netayahu will give his much anticipated speech to (most) members of Congress tomorrow; in Tallahassee, where the legislative session kicks off in a little more than 24 hours; and in Tampa, where the municipal elections take place tomorrow — though how many people will actually go to the polls remains in question (and certainly worth more attention is why these elections are in March, and not in November, when they will be nothing else on the ballot in Hillsborough County?).

But what about public policy issues? How about wage theft?

The Tampa Tribune’s Mike Salinero & Steve Girardi report this morning that there are efforts in both Hillsborough County and St. Petersburg to address the issue of workers being cheated out of wages they’ve earned on the job. This is not an insignificant issue.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, “No one knows precisely how many instances of wage theft occurred in the U.S. during 2012, nor do we know what the victims suffered in total dollars earned but not paid. But we do know that the total amount of money recovered for the victims of wage theft who retained private lawyers or complained to federal or state agencies was at least $933 million—almost three times greater than all the money stolen in robberies that year.”

Wage theft mostly affects low-income workers.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner is scheduled to propose an ordinance at this Wednesday’s Board of County Commission meeting that would set up a reporting, mediation and hearing process for wage theft victims, covering all employees in the private sector. St. Pete City Council member Darden Rice proposed something similar last month with her board, and the Council will take up the issue later this month.

For Beckner, it’s not a new cause. Two years ago he joined union activists in denouncing proposed legislation in Tallahassee that would have overturned ordinances passed in Broward and Miami-Dade counties addressing wage theft.

That wage theft in Miami-Dade County survived, and is the law that both Beckner and Rice are proposing their respective local governments to emulate.

In other news…

That Tampa City Council District 6 race continues to generate controversy.

And if you somehow missed reports on CPAC on Friday, here are our reports on how Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio performed.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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