December 5, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
San Jose, CA – Labor and community activists in Silicon Valley are now testing a phone app that would make it easier for workers to report wage theft.
The WorkerReport app, developed by the Workers Lab in Oakland and SeeClickFix, enables workers to send their location, employer, industry, and the type of theft to a community law center, along with photos of their paystubs or unsafe conditions. For example, said Stanford University engineering graduate student Forest Peterson, a sheet-metal worker’s complaint about not being paid overtime and toxic spilled chemicals on the job site would be forwarded to the sheet-metal workers’ union, which would then notify the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the state Department of Labor. The app, being tested in California’s Santa Clara County, Oakland, and Seattle, is also available in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Tagalog. Most workers who experience wage theft “never collect what they’re owed,” says Ruth Silver Taube of the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition. Even when a court orders employers to pay back wages, she says, they avoid it by scams such as transferring the business to a shell company with a different name. Read more