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4/11/2018 Calkin bill would defend against wage theft
STATE HOUSE –Sen. Jeanine Calkin is sponsoring legislation that would protect workers from a common form of wage theft.

Currently, there are many instances when employees of contractors, such as some construction workers, are not paid, and they have a hard time recovering those wages. Senator Calkin’s bill (2018-S 2286) attempts to hold accountable lead entities that hire contractors that take advantage of their workers in this manner.

“Wage theft is a serious issue, and workers deserve to be paid for the work they do.  Unfortunately, sometimes unscrupulous contractors make their profit by bidding low and not paying their workers. We need to ensure that they have a means to recoup those stolen wages. Working people deserve real justice and to be paid for the value of their work so they can support themselves and their families,” said Senator Calkin (D-Dist. 30, Warwick).

It is not uncommon for contractors to win contracts by bidding low with an expectation of not paying some workers.  And in some cases, the entities hiring them know the reason a particular bid is much lower than other bids received is because the contractor’s labor costs are much lower.  For example, in construction projects, the materials costs are very close in price, but the labor costs are much lower than those of competing bidders.

Senator Calkin’s bill would establish that “lead entities,” the person or business entity that hires the contractor, must share in all civil legal responsibility and liability for all workers supplied by any labor contractor they hire.

“With such a law in place, it will be much more difficult for contractors to get away with wage theft, because no one will be willing to hire a contractor who has engaged in such practices or who they suspect is bidding low because they plan to do so,” Senator Calkin said.

The bill, which had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee April 5, is cosponsored by Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence), Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence) and Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown). Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (D-Dist. 5, Providence) is sponsoring companion legislation (2018-H 7117) in the House.   

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923