Sunday, February 07, 2016
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Issues: Workers Rights


Immigrants make up 14 percent of Massachusetts' population but 17 percent of our workforce, playing a vital role at all levels of our state's economy. Even so, immigrant workers are traditionally most susceptible to labor law exploitation.

MIRA applauds Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley for vigorously defending immigrant workers' rights, regardless of their immigration status. However, immigrants and all workers in our state would benefit greatly by the adoption of laws that strengthen the protections afforded them by our labor laws.

MIRA advocates for the protection of workers through:

Prevailing Wage Law - creating uniform payroll records requirements across a number of industries. This bill would improve the Fair Wage Division of the Attorney General's Office to function more efficiently when enforcing labor laws.

Employment Agency Law - streamlines provisions governing temp agencies. Requires agencies to provide written notice of key details of the job assignment, including employer, type of work to be done, and wages.

Wage & Hour Penalty - allows to Fair Wage Division of the Attorney General's Office to issue civil citations in certain wage and hour cases. While the Division can currently use criminal sanctions, the resources needed in criminal cases makes it hard to justify criminal prosecution unless there is significant restitution at stake.

Private Right of Action - expands the list of laws that individuals may enforce through a private right of action. This would expand individuals' ability to pursue enforcement of labor laws when the Fair Wage Division of the Attorney General's Office is unable or unwilling to pursue the case.

Weekly Payment of Wages - ensures that employees who are paid through debit cards/pay cards do not see their wages reduced by virtue of the employer's wage payment method.

Minimum Wage Act - provides uniformity in enforcement of wage and hour violations by making the statute of limitations 3 years for all violations. This bill would also provide for uniform record keeping requirements for employers.

Ensuring state and federal agencies with jurisdiction over labor law violations are aware of such violations against immigrants and act to rectify those violations

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