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San Jose approves wage theft policy

Construction workers working.
Steve: "They can't be all zingers" (Primus)
Flickr / Creative Commons
Construction workers working.

Following a years-long back and forth, between demands from workers' rights organizations, and building developers, the San Jose City Council has approved what is called the “Responsible Construction Ordinance.”

The new ordinance will withhold certifications from developers that use contractors with unpaid wage judgments.

Applicants will have to certify that no judgments exist to get approval. Or, if they do, prove that they will be satisfied before construction.

The city will also expand searches to include civil wage violations, penalty assessments, and Bureau of Field Enforcement citations.

Due to pushback from developers, the ordinance was delayed and revised.

Some changes included the exclusion of perjury for contractors and subcontractors if they falsify pay transparency certifications. Another change removed the possibility of city fines.

Wage theft protection has been pushed to the center stage since 2019. That’s after an unlicensed Hayward subcontractor, working on Silvery Towers, held more than a dozen workers in San Jose against their will, with little-to-no pay.

Since 2001, more than 12,000 Santa Clara County construction workers have been victims of wage theft, totaling about $46 million dollars.

While the “Responsible Construction Ordinance” has also been approved in three other Bay Area cities, San Jose would be the largest to pass a policy like this.

Hi everyone! I (she/they) am a Bay Area native, multimedia journalist, and latte enthusiast.