Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey addresses 'wage theft' issue with constituents

Workers in Minneapolis are asking Mayor Jacob Frey and the City Council to pass an ordinance that would combat wage theft and penalize companies that violate the law.

The Center for Workers Unite in Struggle (Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha) or CTUL wants to see the city of Minneapolis expand on state and federal laws, increase penalties for repeat offenders, and put aside dedicated funds to help investigate alleged cases.

“It’s not right and it’s not fair and that’s why we have all these demands,” said CTUL member Ikal Avila.

Common forms of wage theft include non-payment of overtime or forcing employees to work off the clock. While it is common in low wage jobs, it also happens on the corporate level.

According to Good Jobs First, a non-profit that promotes corporate and government accountability in economic development, companies like Walmart, Bank of America and State Farm Insurance are some of the biggest offenders.

Mayor Jacob Frey heard from several people Wednesday that claim to be victims of wage theft.

Steven Suffridge works for McDonalds and says he has often been cheated out of hourly wages.

“One week they forgot to put two to three days on my check and then they want to make an excuse that it’s a time clock,” he said. “When a bill is due, a bill is due.”

“Because they’re not getting paid on time--or in some cases--paid at all, they’re going without food or going homeless,” said Frey. “I think we can all agree that’s not okay.”

Frey said he is still working out how the city could strengthen its laws against wage theft.

“We’re still working through what the process would look like but clearly we can’t sit back and do nothing,” he said.