(Cross-posted at the Makeshift Academic)
Annise Parker has certainly had a productive two weeks.
First, she signs an executive order extending benefits to same-sex married couples, citing federal law.
Then, the City Council unanimously passes a beefed up wage-theft ordinance. The wage theft bill is something of a compromise, but it does prevent the city from contracting with firms convicted of stealing workers wages. That's big.
As the esteemed Laura Clawson has noted, wage theft nationally steals more than bank, gas station and convenience store robberies combined. So it's good to see a major city, in Texas no less, taking this seriously.
But what's even bigger is that those firms won't be able to get occupational permits or licenses for several years. So the law not only bans firms from doing business with the City of Houston, but also from conducting business in the City of Houston. Now, very few firms tend to get convicted of theft, but the threat of this sanction should serve as a nice deterrent and encourage scofflaws to settle up with their employees instead of gumming up the judicial process.
We still need workers to come forward with claims, and need to support those claims. That's a logical next step in the Down with Wage Theft Campaign, a broad coalition of community organizations spearheaded by the fine folks over at the Fe y Justicia Worker Center. This was an effective grassroots campaign -- good work all.