Chelsea Becomes First City Council in MA to Take Action on Private Sector Wage Theft
CHELSEA, MA – Chelsea City Council became the first city in Massachusetts to pass a wage theft ordinance that will punish city licensed businesses for stealing or withholding worker’s wages unlawfully. The ordinance directs the city’s Licensing Board to suspend, revoke, or not renew the business license of any city licensed business that was convicted of fair labor or wage violations laws. Additionally, the ordinance permanently bans companies convicted of such practices from bidding on city contracts.
“Companies that withhold or fail to pay wages in the City of Chelsea harms the well-being of employees, their families, and their communities,” said Roy Avellaneda, Chelsea City Councilor At Large who sponsored the ordinance. “We hear the stories every day from our constituents about local businesses that hold wages for months or do not pay at all. We are taking a stand against these practices in our city and hope other cities and towns in Massachusetts do the same. People deserve to get paid for the work they. Period.”
‘We applaud Councilor Avellaneda and the members of the Chelsea City Council for addressing the scourge of ‘Wage Theft’,” said Rich Rogers, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council. “We are thrilled that Chelsea is stepping up to assure that Chelsea residents are protected against unscrupulous employers that routinely violate overtime laws and cheat workers out of wages they are entitled to.”
“This ordinance is important because I was personally robbed of wages and overtime by a Chelsea business,” said Arturo Palacios. “Because I wasn’t paid, I couldn’t pay my rent and had to take out a loan just so I wouldn’t lose my home. We need to protect working families and stop companies from robbing us.”
The ordinance will go into effect immediately and will be incorporated into the city’s standard vendor contracts. It will require all businesses obtaining and renewing their licenses, or doing business with the city, to provide assurances to the city’s Purchasing Agent in writing that it complies with all wage and salary laws and that it has not been adjudicated in any federal or state criminal or civil judgment, administrative citation, final administrative determination, order or debarment resulting from a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act or any other state or federal laws regulating the payment of wages within three years.
While the cities of Boston and Cambridge have passed similar ordinances, they were done by executive order versus action by their respective City Councils. The Chelsea City Council, who in the last election became a majority minority composition, is the first Council in the state to pass this ordinance on its own.