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Campaign for the Unpaid Wages Prohibition Act: Latino Immigrants Change New York Wage Law

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Abstract:

On September 17, 1997, the Unpaid Wages Prohibition Act was signed, giving New York State the strongest wage enforcement law in the country. The campaign that won the Act was conceived of and led by immigrant workers and members of the Workplace Project, a nonprofit workers center in Long Island. It was supported by a broad coalition of business, labor, religious, and community groups, as well as two other workers centers, the Latino Workers Center and the Chinese Staff and Workers Association.

Jennifer Gordon describes the campaign's origins and strategy, explores lessons that were learned and that may be useful to other groups seeking to carry out similar efforts, and suggests ways that the campaign could be used as the basis for a model of active citizenship education.