Enforcement

UWUnited - Strategic Partnerships Advance Worker Equity

Description :

Unemployed Workers United is organizing a multiracial and multigenerational movement with unemployed, underemployed, and workers in precarious employment conditions dedicated and committed to creating an economy and society that respects all working people, their families and their communities. We organize workers across the nation with a focus on the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Tennessee, and Texas.

See our attached letter describing our recommendations on advancing worker equity in:

Enforcement

DOL Should Establish a Strategic Enforcement Partnership with Nonprofit Worker Organizations to Collaborate on Worker Outreach/Education and Enforcement -- While we appreciate that DOL currently has grant programs where nonprofit organizations are awarded grants to conduct outreach and education to workers on topics such as safe workplaces and hazard recognition and prevention, we recommend that DOL establish a Strategic Enforcement Partnership with nonprofit worker organizations and community legal organizations to collaborate on targeted enforcement in low wage industries and sectors that have high rates of workplace violations.

A model is the California Strategic Enforcement Partnership (SEP). The SEP is a partnership between the California Labor Commissioner, the National Employment Law Project (NELP), worker organizations, and nonprofit legal groups that was formed in 2016 to bolster anti-wage theft enforcement efforts in six low-wage, high violation industries and to create a culture of labor law compliance. Worker centers and nonprofit legal groups with language and cultural competency, as well as deep knowledge of industry practices and community context, intensively engaged and supported workers throughout every step of the Labor Commissioner investigation process and beyond. Since 2018, the SEP has resulted in $61.5 million assessed in unpaid wages, and more than $8 million collected for workers.

This public agency-community partnership model can be replicated by the DOL with its various divisions relating to wage/hour, health and safety, federal contracting, and workforce development and training. The priority should be to partner with worker organizations that have the trust, track record, and cultural and linguistic competency in engaging the specific underserved and marginalized worker populations discussed above (e.g., BIPOC, undocumented immigrant, justice impacted, LGBTQ+ workers of color, women of color, workers in low-paid industries, etc.), particularly in under resourced geographic areas that lack state and local labor enforcement resources where DOL's role is especially critical.

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Idea No. 391

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