The Human Right to Work With Dignity Act Makes Non-Payment of Wages a Crime of Theft

April 4, 2019

Contact: Heather Rutman
213.615.9211 (m)

DENVER, CO – With a bipartisan 10-1 vote, House Bill 1267 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, April 2nd. The Human Right to Work With Dignity Act, co-sponsored by Representatives Jonathan Singer and Meg Froelich and Senators Robert Rodriguez and Jessie Danielson, codifies that wage theft is theft, subject to the same criminal penalties as defined in the theft statute. It also strengthens protections for workers by closing loopholes in Colorado law that contribute to the wage theft epidemic.

“Wage theft is a cancer within the construction industry,” said Dan Langford, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Executive Secretary-Treasurer. “But with HB19-1267, working families in Colorado will have a means to fight back against corrupt contractors who rob them of their right to be paid fairly for an honest day’s work. We are grateful for Representatives Meg Froelich and Jonathan Singer’s advocacy on behalf of working people in Colorado and urge the House to pass HB19-1267 without delay.”

“Loopholes in Colorado’s wage and hour law allow labor trafficking and wage theft to flourish,” said Jim Gleason, UBC Western District Representative. “When the exploitation of human labor for profit becomes ‘business as usual,’ it threatens a worker’s economic security and social welfare.”

Members of the Colorado Carpenters Local 555 spent a long day at the Capitol yesterday waiting for their chance to testify on behalf of the bill. Joining them were Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty, David Seligman of Towards Justice, a non-profit that assists low-wage workers in wage theft cases, staff from the Colorado Human Trafficking Council, and a dozen allies representing working people.

The Colorado Fiscal Institute estimates that more than half a million Colorado workers are victims of wage theft each year, losing an estimated $750 million in stolen pay. Construction workers represent a disproportionate percentage of its victims. In addition to the harm it causes to Colorado’s working families, wage theft causes the state to lose up to $47 million in revenue.

The new bill would classify wage theft of over $2,000 as a felony. Under current law, wage theft of any amount is a misdemeanor.


About the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters (SWRCC)

The SWRCC represents more than 52,000 union carpenters in six states. The Union is dedicated to raising the safety and standards for all skilled laborers and advocate for the rights of workers, their families, and their communities. The SWRCC is proud to be affiliated with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. For more, visit