Last year our Minnesota legislators passed a law to prevent wage theft in our state. Imagine your employer stealing what they said they were to pay you? It happens more often than you think.

This year, there is a well-organized movement by employers in Minnesota to modify if not downright eliminate the wage theft law. It seems they want to go back to looting our wages again. A recent hearing that took place in the state Senate in mid-February tends to prove that.

Close to a dozen employer organizations, representing both the public sector (think schools) and private sector, showed up at the “hearing” to protest how difficult it is to pay their workers properly. I am sure the presenters were all being paid and don’t have to worry about their personal wage theft. Perhaps they have a contract.

Employer representatives mentioned how difficult and costly it would be for their businesses to give each new employee a document displaying their pay and benefits. One employer representative said they would have to give current employees the same. The only thing difficult about an employment notice is they couldn’t lower the pay so easily and/or have them work off-the-clock.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce reported it was an administration burden for their members. Their members would have to send costly notices.

In the electronic messaging era it doesn’t appear too costly.

One employer said they wouldn’t be able to give out “surprise bonuses.” Another employer said wage information is covered in the employee (think employer’s) handbook and other employer written handouts … of course they regularly edit them. Self-serving and discriminatory was the representative who said they would have to put wage and hour information in the employee’s native language.

Get used to it, Minnesota is changing.

I suspect the most disagreeable abuser of wage theft, according to “hearing” speakers, are school districts. They apparently have their poorest paid employees work regularly off the clock and perhaps not properly paid when on the clock.

In my district I received numerous pieces of expensive mail last year promoting an increase in property taxes. I voted for the increase and better schools. I hope my increase in property taxes doesn’t support working off- the-clock.

I know our local state legislators read this paper. I hope they keep in mind that wage theft is a crime. Wage theft is especially outrageous when employers cheat the poor.

Bruce Yernberg

Red Wing