We’re early supporters of Illinois SB1720, and we want you to understand why a startup has entered the legislative arena.

The bill increases penalties on repeat and willful wage theft, making it a felony instead of a misdemeanor, and bars convicted companies from winning state contracts for five years. You can learn more about the bill in another blog post here and at the Illinois General Assembly site here.

For starters, we’re not just another startup, we’re a social enterprise, and we have a mission to improve working conditions for low-paid hourly workers. We believe that adding information into the job market and educating workers on their rights will improve their work lives and the economy. We’re slowly but surely starting to make an impact. In a few weeks, we’ll “onboard” a group of workers who have it pretty tough, doing work that most Americans won’t even consider doing. And we have another worker center (supporting another set of oft-victimized workers) ready to start once they hire someone to manage the project.

Enlightened Self-Interest

For us, the decision to initiate and support the wage theft bill started as simply the right thing to do for Illinois workers, taxpayers, ethical businesses. That’s the “enlightened” part. The “self-interest” part recognizes that it makes good business sense for more people to know what wage theft is and how it hurts them and the economy. Maybe some of them will turn to the free HourVoice Worker App for help.

That’s the B2C part, but there’s also a B2B angle. HourVoice provides data on working conditions to worker advocates like labor unions, worker centers and pro-worker attorneys. Happily, in working on this bill, we’ve made some good friends at UFCW 881 here in Chicago, and are honored that they’re contributing their resources to support this effort.

We know that many businesses promote legislation that’s in their interest, and we realize that we’re doing the same thing. We believe, however, that this bill helps everyone (except unethical employers), and we’re thrilled to be part of it.

Contact me at dchartier AT hourvoice DOT com with your thoughts. Thanks.