The Funded Project:
Create a database sourced through public records that identifies New York companies guilty of wage theft and distribute this information to consumers.
In Their Own Words:
We want to build a community of consumers and day laborers around the issue of wage theft. We want to use public records to create an exhaustive database of companies in New York City that have stolen wages. We would distribute this information through an online portal as well as a text message based service. Consumers and day laborers could find out if a business has stolen wages before taking a job or hiring someone. The text message service would allow users text queries to a phone number quickly, while the online portal would allow users to explore the data by industry, offense and location. In order to get people to use the service, we would have to travel to workers’ collectives, street corners where day laborers gather, union meetings and elsewhere to spread the word.
New York State recovers an estimated 3 percent of the $965 billion in stolen wages on average. Many wage thieves are repeat offenders and simply refuse to pay the fines they receive, or do so, and then continue stealing. We hope to encourage a more fair work culture by exposing wage thieves to potential patrons and the people who would work for them.
The grant would fund the data collection effort, which would involve collecting information from federal and state agencies, small claims courts, state courts and federal courts among many other systems.