What is an “Inspire Article”?
The Inspire category is a way to showcase progress on an issue. These articles consist of positive outcomes on the issue, and can even include case studies of progress on similar issues outside of Palm Beach County – in the hopes we can apply the knowledge, and be inspired to do more!
PEACE Halts State Bill Prohibiting Local Wage Theft Ordinances
PEACE members were ecstatic at the close of the legislative session last week - due to pressure placed on key Senators, the state bill to prohibit local wage theft ordinances died in the Senate and therefore will not become law.
PEACE began its work to get a local Wage Theft Ordinance established in the spring of 2010, after researching what could be done to address a public outcry around the problem of wage theft. Wage theft, defined as the unlawful underpayment or non-payment of wages owed, runs rampant in Palm Beach County. 1,313 persons attended the group's Action Assembly in 2010, and powerfully introduced the idea of a local Ordinance as the best solution to this problem.
In October of 2010, the Board of County Commissioners agreed, and voted 6-0 to direct staff to draft an Ordinance for a first reading on February 1st. It was at that time that certain members of the business community began expressing opposition to the local Ordinance. The reason, they said, was that there are already laws in place to deal with the problem of wage theft (see article entitled "PEACE Counters Opponents of Wage Theft Ordinance" to download the PEACE white paper countering such false arguments). One of these business entities - the Florida Retail Federation - was successful in getting a state bill introduced that would have stripped Counties and municipalities of the right to have local Wage Theft Ordinances.
Intent on not having over a year's worth of work be for naught, PEACE leaders began using the source of their power - organized people - to fight back. 1,413 persons attended the Action Assembly on April 11th, and committed to fight the state bill by placing calls to the offices of key legislators. Over the ensuing month, they did just that. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of phone calls were placed to Tallahassee, making the voices of Palm Beach County heard. The organization's leadership also sent many different pieces of correspondence - all aimed at urging the legislators to do the right thing, and allow this grave problem of wage theft to be addressed locally, and effectively (as only a local Ordinance could do).
The House version - HB 241 - passed the House on Friday, April 29th. On Monday, May 2nd, despite the fact that it had only passed one of the three committees to which it was assigned, the Senate bill - SB 982 - was pulled directly to the floor for a second reading.
PEACE members doubled their efforts at that point - distributing the call to action to even more people and flooding the offices of key legislators with phone calls. The end result - by 3:58 am on Saturday morning (when Session concluded for the year) - the bill was never heard and therefore died in Senate.
PEACE members have been celebrating this minor victory on the road to passage of a local Wage Theft Ordinance, and are looking forward building upon the momentum generated.