On January 24th, ten former workers from Yaw’s Top Notch Restaurant won their campaign against wage theft and picked up checks from management. The workers confronted their supervisors over more than $1200 in unpaid waged for mandatory unpaid meetings, illegal paycheck deductions, and missing time cards.
When Gibson confronted her boss about wage theft, he challenged her to do something about it. That’s when she heard about the Wage Theft Action Network and within a week, she gathered dozens of supporters to confront the boss directly and demand her wages back.
With the support of the Wage Theft Action Network, Gibson held a series of actions to hold her former boss accountable for the wages he’d stolen. Last week, we organized two pickets and we finally broke through after weeks of our calls being ignored.
Gibson is a local Portlander who worked at the Lyrik Café for several years. When the café was sold and came under new management, there were several changes. The new owner, Mike Lemmo had a different vision for the café, a direction that did not include a lot of the staff. It was clear to Gibson that she was not included in that vision, when Mike disproved of her appearance, called her a “dirty hippie” and made groundless accusations that she stole from the café. Later, he fired her via a text message. But not before he deducted over $100 from her final paycheck – the amount he claims she stole – and did not provide a pay stub.
Martha Macias is an example of a worker who has had her wages stolen for the last three years. Martha worked at a neighborhood lotto deli. She is a mother of two and lives in an area where the bad economy has hit hard. Many see themselves as lucky to have jobs even if those jobs are not paying them for all their work. For Martha it became an issue of respect.
Her boss started taking money from their paycheck if they were off on the till. Once Martha was off roughly $6 and he deducted from her paycheck. She confronted him and he responded with “I don’t like to lose money.”
It was then that it clicked for Martha and she responded in kind. “I don’t like to lose money either and I am working 84 hours in an 80 hour pay period and I’m working those extra hours for free.”
Like many low wage workers, Carmen felt that she and her co-workers were not being respected for their labor. On a regular basis, Carmen was required to work 15 minutes off the clock. In addition, there was no clear process to file complaints. When workers did complain, some of the managers ridiculed and verbally abused them. That all changed when Carmen took a brave step and decided to go public with her complaints.
By taking action and joining with her community and supporters Carmen was able to negotiate with the management. They did the right thing and wrote her a check for her missing wages. For Carmen this was not about the money, but was about respect for her and the other kitchen staff.
For two years Carmen Lopez worked in the kitchen at Beaches Restaurant. The work is fast-paced from open to close. However, in order to prep for the days work Carmen and other workers have regularly been required to work off the clock by coming in early to prepare for the morning rush. Their prep time however is not paid for.
Carmen has had enough and on Thursday, April 26, she and a group of over 20 community members of the We Are Oregon Wage Theft Action Network delivered a letter to the management of the Portland Airport Beaches Restaurant branch.
Carmen’s request was reasonable – respect wage and hour law, the rights of workers, and pay her the wages she is owed for all of the off-the-clock hours she has worked.