Tag Archives: Department of Workforce Solutions

New Mexico Faces Backlog of Wage Theft Complaints | The Line

Wage Theft

January 31, 2020 – New Mexico is dealing with a backlog of about 1,900 complaints of wage theft linked to enforcement of the state’s minimum wage law. That backlog accumulated before New Mexico’s minimum wage went from $7.50 to $9.00 an hour on the first of this year. Gene Grant and The Line panelists give their views on the best ways to deal with the current backlog and enforce the law. (This segment is part of our #YourNMGov project, in collaboration with KUNM radio and the Santa Fe Reporter, and funded by the Thornburg Foundation and New Mexico Local News Fund) 

 Line Panelists: 

Merritt Allen, Vox Optima 
Michael Barrio, executive director, Prosperity Works 
Dan Foley, former state representative 
Sophie Martin, attorney 

Transcript:

>>GENE GRANT: THERE IS A BACKLOG OF ABOUT 1,900 COMPLAINTS OF WAGE THEFT LINKED TO ENFORCEMENT OF THE STATE’S MINIMUM WAGE LAW OUT THERE. COMPLAINTS BY LOW WAGE LABORERS THAT THEIR EMPLOYERS ARE NOT ADEQUATELY PAYING THEM ARE STARTING TO PILE UP. DURING THE MARTINEZ ADMINISTRATION. WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS SECRETARY SAYS HE NEEDS MORE INVESTIGATORS FOR COMPLAINTS IN ORDER TO CONTINUE TO FULFILL MAJOR PROVISIONS STEMMING FROM A 2018 LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT. 2018, THE MINIMUM WAGE WAS 7.50. JANUARY 1, IT WENT UP TO 9 BUCKS AN HOUR. DO YOU THINK WITH THIS NEW INCREASE, THE NUMBER OF THESE COMPLAINTS ARE GOING TO GO UP? WE CAN ONLY ASSUME WHAT WE HAVE ON THE BOOKS NOW IS PROBABLY JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG ANYWAY.   

>>MICHAEL BARRIO: THIS IS A PROBLEM THAT REALLY NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED. THAT LARGE OF A BACKLOG IS SOMETHING THAT I DON’T THINK THAT WE CAN JUST IGNORE. SO, I THINK THAT SECRETARY MCCAMLEY IS RIGHT TO SAY WE REALLY NEED SOME FUNDS TO ACTUALLY SUBSTANTIVELY ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM. I DON’T THINK IT IS GOING AWAY SO THIS IS SOMETHING THAT GREATLY IMPACTS HUGE POPULATIONS OF OUR CITIZENS. IF WE ARE NOT TRYING TO GET OUT IN FRONT OF THIS, HOW MUCH LONGER ARE WE GOING TO SIT AROUND?  

>>GRANT: PART OF THE LABOR FORCES ARE IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY. BIG PART OF WHERE THE COMPLAINTS ARE COMING FROM, THE IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY. HE WANTS TO BE FOR THEM. HE IS ACKNOWLEDGING THAT. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE A BIT MORE? IS THAT WELL UNDERSTOOD IN OUR STATE AND OUR SOCIETY?   

>>BARRIO: I THINK WHAT HE IS PROPOSING IS — I THINK IT MAKES SENSE WHAT HE IS PROPOSING. I THINK THE FACT THAT HE WANTS TO DO MORE IS INDICATIVE OF HOW, YOU KNOW, HOW HE VIEWS US PROGRESSING ON THIS ISSUE IN THIS STATE. SO, YOU KNOW, WE’LL SEE WHERE IT GOES. BUT IT IS THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG AND I THINK WE’LL START TO SEE A LITTLE BIT MORE KIND OF BUILD UP. HOPEFULLY WE DON’T.  

>>GRANT: YOU DON’T USE LOW WAGE HELP IN YOUR SHOP. YOU’RE AN EMPLOYER. HOW DO YOU SEE THIS FROM AN EMPLOYER’S POINT OF VIEW? PEOPLE ARE GAMING THE SYSTEM AND NOT WILLING TO GO THERE ON THE MINIMUM WAGE THING.   

>>MERRITT ALLEN: I THINK IT IS GOING TO BE AN ISSUE FOR RURAL EMPLOYERS WHO MAYBE COULDN’T KEEP UP. IT IS GOING TO BE AN ISSUE FOR RESTAURANTS. I MEAN I AM SURE THE RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION HAS A VIEW ON THIS. FROM MY PERSPECTIVE, I WOULD LIKE TO SEE — I WOULD GUARANTEE THERE IS A DEVASTATING BACKLOG OF SOMETHING IN EVERY STATE AGENCY WE HAVE. BECAUSE I WOULD LOVE TO SEE EVERYBODY STEP UP AND SAY, I NEED ONE TIME FUNDING TO MAKE MY AGENCY COMPETENT. I THINK THAT WOULD GO A LONG WAY TO HELPING OUR STATE. I THINK THIS IS POTENTIALLY POLITICAL GOALS. THEY HAVE DONE PRESS CONFERENCES ON IT. WE ARE COVERING IT, SO, WE RAISED THE MINIMUM WAGE, WE’RE LEGALIZING WEED, WE ARE GOING TO GO BACK AND GET BACK WAGES, I MEAN, THIS IS COMING UP TO BE A NICE REALLY NICE ACTIVE PLATFORM FOR DEMOCRATS IN 2020.  

>>GRANT: THE IDEA THAT YOU COULD HAVE — HE WANTS TO DO EDUCATION SEMINARS FOR EMPLOYERS, MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FINANCIAL SETTLEMENTS BETWEEN EMPLOYERS AND WORKERS. THAT ONE INTERESTS ME, THIS IDEA OF FINANCIAL SETTLEMENTS. IT COULD GO ONE OF TWO WAYS. YOU EITHER DO A HIGH PROFILE, YOU KNOW, DUNKING OF SOMEONE, YOU KNOW, MANY, MANY LAWSUITS THAT SAYS TO EMPLOYER WORLD, THIS IS YOUR FATE IF WE FINE YOU OR YOU QUIETLY SETTLE BEHIND THE SCENES. WHICH IS A BETTER WAY TO GO?   

>>SOPHIE MARTIN: IT IS HARD FOR ME TO SAY. A PART OF ME KIND OF CRINGED AT THE IDEA OF THE SETTLEMENTS, NOT BECAUSE I DON’T THINK THAT REALISTICALLY THAT IS WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN, BUT BECAUSE IDEALISTICALLY, I FEEL LIKE YOU OWE THE MONEY AND YOU OWE IT TO THESE PEOPLE AND THEY NEED THE MONEY. THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT PEOPLE ARE LIVING EVEN MORE HAND TO MOUTH BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT BEING PAID FULLY. PART OF ME SAYS, YOU’RE ON THE HOOK FOR EVERYTHING BUT I RECOGNIZE SETTLEMENTS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO HAPPEN IN ORDER FOR PEOPLE TO GET PAYMENT QUICKLY AND THAT IS ALWAYS THE TENSION IN SETTLEMENTS, WILL I GET THE MONEY NOW OR FINISH FIGHTING THIS OUT.  

>>GRANT: ARE WE GOING TO SEE AN ERA OF NEW TV COMMERCIALS FROM LAWYERS, IF YOU HAVE BEEN –   

>>MARTIN: WE PROBABLY ALREADY DO. THE TOUGH THING IS THESE ARE NOT CASES THAT LAWYERS CAN ALWAYS TAKE. THERE ARE A COUPLE OF FIRMS IN TOWN IN ALBUQUERQUE WHO HAVE DONE A GOOD JOB WITH THIS BUT THE TRUTH IS, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT, IN THE BIG PICTURE, SMALL AMOUNTS OF MONEY TO INDIVIDUALS. AND WITHOUT STATE INVOLVEMENT, WITHOUT SORT OF THE LARGER COMMUNITY OF PEOPLE WHO ARE OWED MONEY, I AM LEERY TO SAY CLASS ACTION, BUT WITHOUT THAT LARGER FORCE THERE, IT CAN BE VERY HARD TO GO TO AN ATTORNEY AND SAY, I THINK I AM OWED 2,000 DOLLARS, WILL YOU TAKE MY CASE? HOW DOES THAT WORK OUT? AS OPPOSED TO STATE ENFORCEMENT, I THINK THIS IS AN APPROPRIATE USE OF THE STATE’S HAMMER.  

>>GRANT: I APPRECIATE THAT DISTINCTION. DAN, SOME MIGHT SAY THIS PROBABLY SHOWS THAT THIS WAS TOO MUCH OF A BITE FOR SOME EMPLOYERS IN SOME CATEGORIES OUT THERE, MEANING THEY WERE ON THE EDGE ANYWAY AND THEN MINIMUM WAGE GOES UP, THEY COULDN’T GET THERE, SO TO SPEAK. THIS IS WHAT WE WARNED EVERYBODY ABOUT, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? THAT ANGLE, WOULD YOU AGREE WITH THAT OR JUST –   

>>DAN FOLEY: THE LAW IS THE LAW AND ONE OF THE PROBLEMS THAT I HAVE THAT WE DEAL WITH THIS WITH SOME OF THE CLIENTS THAT HAVE THIS ISSUE COME UP. I AGREE WITH SOPHIE IT IS HARD TO SAY GO FIND A LAWYER BECAUSE WE OWE YOU $900 AND THEN, YOU KNOW –  

>>GRANT: SO SUE ME…   

>>FOLEY: HERE IS THE PROBLEM, I THINK WORK FORCE SOLUTIONS HAS SHOWN THE INABILITY TO WORK WITH THE EMPLOYERS. AND HERE IS WHAT I MEAN BY THAT. THESE TACTICS — I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THEM SAY, THE FIRST THING WE ARE GOING TO DO IS LOOK AT HOW MANY OF THESE ARE FRAUDULENT AND GET THOSE OFF THE BOOKS AND WE ARE GOING TO TELL THOSE PEOPLE, LOOK, YOU MAY THINK YOU WERE OWED, MAYBE YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN OWED, BUT THE LAW SAYS A, B, C. AND THE TIMES I HAVE SEEN THIS STUFF, THESE GUYS COME IN WITH UNFETTERED ACCESS AND THEY RAPE THE EMPLOYER OVER THE COALS AND AT THE END OF THE DAY I CAN TELL YOU I HAVE BEEN PART OF THIS WITH CLIENTS WHERE THEY JUST KEEP GOING AFTER THE EMPLOYER FOR SOMETHING THAT THE EMPLOYER CLEARLY DIDN’T DO WRONG AND THEN THEY START OFFERING THE EMPLOYEE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SETTLE FOR SOMETHING THEY DIDN’T DO, WHICH THEN ENTICES MORE COMPLAINTS TO COME. I THINK THEY NEED TO DO THEIR JOB, DON’T GET ME WRONG. MY POINT IS, THE FOLKS THAT ARE FRAUDULENTLY DOING THIS, THE FOLKS THAT ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THESE PEOPLE SHOULD BE PROSECUTED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW. THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE DONE THINGS WRONG BECAUSE THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND, THEY DON’T HAVE THE CAPABILITY TO UNDERSTAND, WE SHOULDN’T HAMMER THEM. WE SHOULD WORK WITH THEN TO FIX THE PROBLEM. AND THE ONES THAT ARE HAVING FRAUDULENT COMPLAINTS AGAINST THEM, SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE TO DISCOURAGE THAT FROM HATCHING. I THINK YOU CAN BREAK THESE UP INTO THREE CATEGORIES AND GO AFTER THE FRAUDULENT GUYS THAT ARE DOING THINGS WRONG KNOWINGLY AND HAMMER THE SNOT OUT OF THEM, THAT NUMBER WILL DWINDLE.  

>>MARTIN: INTERESTING ELEMENT. THIS IDEA THEY ARE GOING TO REALLY PROMOTE EDUCATION. SO, I THINK THE IDEA BEING, MAYBE WE CAN FIX THOSE ONES IN ADVANCE AND THAT CERTAINLY, IN REGULATION, IN GENERAL, THAT IS WHAT YOU WANT, YOU WANT TO TRY AND FIX THE FIXABLE. IS IT POSSIBLE TO DO THAT THROUGH EDUCATION, DO THAT THROUGH THAT SORT OF SUPPORT, THAT IS A REAL WIN, EVEN JUST THAT.   

>>FOLEY: I DON’T FEEL LIKE THESE GUYS –  

>>ALLEN: WE ARE DOING THAT WITH ADP TO THE TUNE OF 60,000. FOR ME THAT IS A LOT OF MONEY. WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT MINIMUM WAGE, A LOT OF BIG EMPLOYERS I HEAR THAT PEOPLE DON’T THINK MUCH OF MCDONALD’S, TARGET, WALMART, THEY ARE ALL PAYING HIGHER THAN MINIMUM WAGE AND THEY HAVE VERY SPECIFIC PAYROLL PROCEDURES. MERRITT ALLEN HAS ONE FIRM, 20 EMPLOYEES, AND ADP, WHEN THEY MAKE A MISTAKE AND IT WAS ON MY TAX PAYMENT, IT IS A LOT FOR ME TO RECOVER NOT ONLY THEIR ERROR BUT ALSO MAKE GOOD WITH THE TAXATION, SO DAN’S POINT ABOUT EDUCATION AND YOUR POINT ABOUT EDUCATION, A LOT OF EMPLOYERS WANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING AND IT IS SO COMPLEX THEY CAN’T.   

>>FOLEY: THIS IS MY OPINION, I GET IT, THERE IS A PROBLEM OUT THERE AND THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT ARE WRONGED AND THEY SHOULD BE ADDRESSED. IT JUST SEEMS LIKE THESE GUYS IN THIS ISSUE ARE RUNNING FORWARD LIKE THEY ARE ROBIN HOOD, INSTEAD OF STEPPING FORWARD AND SAYING, HOLD ON, THERE IS A PROBLEM AND WE ARE GOING TO GO AFTER THE BAD ACTORS BUT ALSO GOING TO WORK WITH THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE A MISUNDERSTANDING AND HELP THEM GET UP TO SPEED. RIGHT NOW EVERY EMPLOYER WHEN YOU SEE THE MESSAGES FROM THE ADMINISTRATION OR FROM THE SECRETARY MCCAMLEY, EMPLOYERS SPHINCTER’S TIGHTEN AND RECOIL, LIKE, MAN, WE ARE GOING TO GET IN TROUBLE AND THAT IS BAD FOR BUSINESS.  

>>GRANT: MICHAEL, THE NETWORK OF 20 OFFICES STATEWIDE BETTER ABLE TO SERVE REMOTE COMMUNITIES, IS THAT ENOUGH? YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT A HUGE STACK, ONLY TWO MORE.   

>>BARRIO: I DON’T THINK IT IS ENOUGH. THINK IT IS A START AND I THINK IT IS A CONSERVATIVE START CONSIDERING WHAT THEY ARE ASKING, YOU KNOW, FOR A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF MONEY TO GET THIS DONE.  

>>GRANT: WE HAVE TO WRAP IT UP FOR THIS WEEK. THANKS TO ALL OUR PANELISTS CERTAINLY FOR THEIR WORK GETTING UP TO SPEED ON OUR ISSUES.  

 

 

 

The Line: New Mexico Says No to ICE Requests for Data

1307 Line ICE Requests for Data

August 16, 2019 – Gene Grant and The Line opinion panelists examine the state’s choice to deny requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for unrestricted access to New Mexico workforce records.

Line Panelists:
Merritt Allen, Vox Optima
Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group PR
Laura Sanchez-Rivét, Affirm
Harry Van Buren, UNM Anderson School of Management

For Further Reading:

State agency denies ICE request for worker records – Albuquerque Journal 

Fearing workplace raids, state rejects ICE request for N.M. workforce records Santa Fe New Mexican

New Mexico employment department rejects ICE request to access data Deming Headlight