What can you do when your employer doesn’t pay you? What can you do when your employer denies that you worked the hours that you worked, or claims that you didn’t work for them at all? What can you do when you realize that your boss isn’t interested in paying you, but instead wants to treat you like a slave?
Meet Worker P.
He had to ask himself all of these questions after working as a dishwasher at Sorrentino, a Seattle-area iItalian restaurant, for a month. After unsuccessfully trying to claim wages owed him, he decided to come to the Worker Defense Committee and see what could be accomplished with the efforts of many.
P worked at Sorrentino as a dishwasher, oftentimes working over 12 hours a day in the back of the restaurant. He wasn’t given an orientation to his work — he wasn’t even told how much he was going to be paid!
After working two weeks, P submitted the hours that he worked to the owners of Sorrentino. The owners issued a personal check to P, a check that even at the minimum wage rate did not cover the full number of hours worked. Despite this, P continued to work for Sorrentino for another pay period, but when it became clear to him that he was not going to get paid the amount of money he was owed, he quit,
P tried to claim his wages from the owners of the restaurant, to no avail. He came to the Worker Defense Committee in hopes that we could facilitate a negotiation with Sorrentino. Oh, how we tried! Champion Promotora C tried sweet talk, tried reason, tried strong armming the management and managed to bring the owners of the restaurant to the table. Time after time, we met with the owners. Time after time, the owners came up with trumped-up reasons why they were unwilling to pay.
After months of dogged pursuit of P’s earned wages, the committee decided to take the campaign to the streets. We started by passing out flyers in front of the restaurant and then turned to picketing in front of the business. Despite angry words and threats of retaliation from the restaurant management, we stayed strong.
In the end, the management decided to try to win us over, even going as far as offering us steaming hot plates of food! We turned our backs on the offer: we were there for P’s wages, not for greasy bribes!
After two weeks of picketing, resulting in a spontaneous near-boycott of the restaurant, the owners of Sorrentino suddenly remembered that they owed P money. They contacted the Worker Defense Committee and made an offer, which P accepted.
Congratulations to Worker P and all committee members and allies who were involved in these actions!
Want to find out more about businesses who have cheated their workers? Want to find out more about our cases? Check out our Employer Black List.
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