SF Coalition Wins Wage Theft Ordinance

Rally at SF City Hall

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a ordinance August 2 increasing penalties and monitoring of employers who fail to pay their workers. Though non-payment of wages is currently illegal, the ordinance strengthens the city's Office of Labor Standards Enforcement's ability to enforce its labor laws. Mayor Ed Lee is expected to sign the ordinance. A progressive coaltion of community and workers organizations championed the new city law and had organized a vibrant campaign to win passage.

A noon time rally the date of the vote highlighted the spirit of the drive. A diverse crowd of 200 chanted for passage, and a flash mob dance highllighted the rally. Spakers spoke of the attacks on the working class nationally. A majority of the Board of Supervisors attended as well as a dozen supporting organizations, signing a pledge to end wage theft.

Estimates are that the state loses $7 billion a year in lost tax revenue and economic participation. The San Francisco city government has been the most progressive one in the country on workers' rights, passing mandatory sick leave and minimum sick leave ordinances. New York State passed a similar law late last year. 

Supervisors Eric Mar and David Campos were the main co-sponsors of the ordinance. Uniquely. they allowed the coalition, the Progressive Workers Alliance, to help draft ordinance language. The alliance included Chinese Progressive Association, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, Filipino Community Center, La Raza Centro, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, PODER, POWER and Young Workers United. The alliance is expected to continue its work by pressing to create a multi-agency taksforce to implement the ordinance.