Robin Pikala became the face of wage theft in Minnesota when she spoke at a news conference at the state Capitol a year ago. She was one of 800 workers owed a total of $1.4 million by Crystal Care, one of the state’s largest home health care agencies.
A joint effort between contractors and building trades unions has led to stronger enforcement of state laws on public construction – making a big dent in cheating and recovering nearly $1 million in stolen wages and benefits.
The field of personnel economics is crowded with academic studies on how employers can screen workers and avoid hiring bad employees, but little work has been done on how workers can do the same with employers.
Simply passing more laws will not stop wage theft. This complex problem requires a network of solutions, including greater education on workplace rights, more organizing by workers themselves and improved government enforcement.