Wage theft bill impacts workers’ dignity

Catholic legislators on both sides of the aisle are considering a new state bill that provides a type of mediation for workers with wage complaints.

Similar bills proposed in previous legislative sessions failed, but the new Wage Protection Act seeks to aid thousands of workers with owed wages through a new state division.

Among its supporters are Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Adams, and Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, who support the act’s creation of a wage complaint division overseen by the state Department of Labor and Employment.

Currently, the state department receives 30,000 calls a year related to wage claims, some 5,200 of which are related to wage theft, according to Ulibarri.

Citizens have the option to take their complaint to small claims court. Yet this process is unfamiliar and perhaps time-consuming for the general public, he said.

The act would create a process for workers to call the department and have an assigned investigator look into a wage complaint under $7,500.  Employers would receive notice and have 14 days to respond.

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce has a neutral stance on the bill and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver supports it.

In January, Colorado Catholic Conference executive director Jenny Kraska testified for the bill saying it will ensure all workers are paid the wages legally owed to them.

The biggest group of people it affects is immigrants, especially undocumented workers because they’re not getting paid what they’re owed,” Kraska said. “It happens in lots of other communities as well.”

She said the Church believes it’s “incumbent on all of society to return the human person to the center of economic life; one way that the Colorado Legislature can do this is to ensure that all workers receive the wages that they are due.

“Unfortunately, many workers in Colorado today are denied this respect and dignity due to wage theft,” Kraska said.

Pope Francis addressed this dignity during a May 2013 audience, on the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. He said, “work is fundamental to the dignity of a person … it gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family and to contribute to the growth of one’s own nation.”

The bill passed the Senate Finance Committee in February and will be considered in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

COMING UP: Colorado bishops issue letter on the Hyde Amendment and other pro-life Congressional policies

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We, the Catholic bishops of Colorado, urge Congressional Representatives to support the Hyde Amendment and the Walden Amendment. We also ask the Faithful to sign The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) petition to lawmakers encouraging them to preserve the Hyde Amendment, which can be accessed at: NoTaxpayerAbortion.com, and to contact their Congressmen and women to support the Hyde and Walden amendments.

The House Appropriations Labor and Health and Human Services subcommittee recently passed a spending bill that strips protections for pre-born children, healthcare providers,and American taxpayers by excluding pro-life provisions, including the Hyde and Weldon amendments.

The Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortion in most cases, except for rape and incest, has received bipartisan support since its inception in 1976 – including by pro-abortion administrations. Hyde is critical in saving lives. The Charlotte Lozier Institute estimates that approximately 60,000 pre-born babies are saved every year because of the Hyde Amendment.[1] This is the first time in 40 years that the Hyde Amendment was not included in the annual appropriations bill[2] and failure to include pro-life amendments will only further increase divisions in our country.

The Weldon Amendment prevents any federal programs, agencies, and state and local governments from discriminating against health care practitioners and institutions that do not provide abortion services. It ensures that pro-life individuals and organizations can enter the health care profession without fearing that the government will force them to perform a procedure that violates their well-founded convictions. It has also received bipartisan support and was added to the appropriations bill every year since it was first enacted in 2005. [3]

Congress’ recent actions endanger the lives of pre-born children and infringe on the rights of millions of Americans who do not wish to participate in the moral evil of abortion. A recent Knights of Columbus/Marist poll found that 58 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortions[4] and a 2019 Gallup poll shows that 60 percent of Americans think abortion should either be illegal or only legal in a few circumstances.[5]

The government should neither use taxpayer funds for the killing of pre-born children nor compel medical practitioners and institutions to violate their well-founded convictions. Congress must uphold these long-standing, common-sense bipartisan policies that promote a culture of life in our nation.

Human reason and science affirm that human life begins at conception. The Church objects to abortion on the moral principle that each and every human life has inherent dignity, and thus must be treated with respect due to every human person. There has never been and never will be a legitimate need to abort a baby in the womb.

It is critical that Congress continue its long-history of supporting policies such as the Hyde and Walden amendments, and that all Colorado Catholics and people of good will make their voice heard in supporting these life-affirming policies.

Sign the petition to Congress here: www.NoTaxpayerAbortion.com

Contact your Congressional Representatives here: https://cocatholicconference.org/news/

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila
Archbishop of Denver

Most Reverend Stephen J. Berg
Bishop of Pueblo

Most Reverend James R. Golka
Bishop of Colorado Springs

Most Reverend Jorge Rodriguez
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver