Southwest Carpenters Applaud Governor Polis for Signing HB19-1267 into Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16th, 2019

Contact:
Heather Rutman 213.615.9211
hrutman@swcarpenters.org

DENVER, CO – With strong bi-partisan support, Governor Polis signed HB19-1267 into law this morning. The Human Right to Work With Dignity Act, carried 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.

“The signing of HB19-1267 sends a strong message to labor traffickers, corrupt contractors and those who prey on the working families of Colorado,” said Dan Langford, Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters’ Executive Secretary-Treasurer. “This new law finally gives Colorado victims of wage theft the means to fight back against those 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 tireless support on behalf of Southwest Carpenters and the working people of Colorado.”

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.

“Unscrupulous employers who purposefully withhold wages or underpay workers hurt the economy by undercutting good employers’ bids, engaging in tax fraud, and denying workers fair compensation,” said Representative Froelich. “That’s why wage theft is a terrible crime and why it will now be treated as such. The Southwest Carpenters were part of a terrific coalition that made this happen and were with us every step of the way.”

“When a worker is denied pay for their hard work, their family suffers, the economy suffers, and our whole community suffers,” Representative Singer said after the bill’s signing. “This corrosive and unfortunately pervasive practice is now a felony in Colorado.”

The new law, which passed with 98% of the vote, classifies wage theft of over $2,000 as a felony. Previously, wage theft of any amount in Colorado was a misdemeanor.

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About the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters (SWRCC)
The SWRCC represents over 52,000 union carpenters in six states. The Union is dedicated to raising the safety and standards for all skilled carpenters and advocating 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 www.swcarpenters.org