In Westchester, County Exec Signs Anti-Wage Theft Bill

The advocates’ coalition that promoted the anti-wage theft bill. (Photo via El Diario)

After a two-year battle by a Westchester community-based coalition, the county executive signed into law an anti-wage theft bill. Activists will now start a campaign to educate both workers and contractors about the extent of this legislation that will take effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

The brand new bill, authored by legislators Nancy Barr and Chris Johnson and which passed the Board of Legislators unanimously, is in fact an amendment to the Home Improvement Licensing Law, also known as “The Anti-Wage Theft act.”

The Don Bosco Community Center, which led the coalition that advocated for the bill, hosted the signing ceremony by County Executive George Latimer. The bill requires the county to consider judgments against contractors for non-payment of employees, and will allow for the revocation or non-renewal of license applications against contractors involved in wage theft.

“It is a very progressive law as it protects both workers and homeowners, who are often affected by unscrupulous contractors,” said Gonzalo Carreon, organizer at the Don Bosco Community Center.

According to Carreon, they had to work really hard to bring about the bill but “we finally made it. Going forward, contractors who underpay or try not to pay know they will suffer the consequences.”

“This bill creates a strong precedent because it will empower workers and the county itself, which will now have a tool to make justice prevail,” said Janet Hernández, a day laborer organizer who works in the community services unit at Catholic Charities.

The new law will also require contractor applicants to disclose any previous judgments against them, especially those involving non-payment or underpayment.

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