Wage theft—the illegal underpayment or non-payment of wages owed—affects workers across all industries, but is especially rampant in restaurants and construction. Low-wage workers are often forced to work off the clock, before and after shifts, and through meal and rest breaks.
It’s difficult for unions to win contracts at these small, insecure worksites, so our foremost tool for getting quick victories and asserting power in the workplace is direct action.
We Are Oregon, a community organizing project funded by Service Employees Locals 503 and 49, has been fighting wage theft for two years. We built a committee of community members who believe in direct action as a primary tactic. The committee grew as more workers won back their stolen wages and then stayed involved to support others.
So far, we have won almost every campaign, worked with dozens of wage theft victims, and recovered more than $6,000.