State Representatives Monica Duran (D-Jefferson County) and Meg Froelich (D-Arapahoe/Denver), backed by the Southwest Mountain States Regional Council of Carpenters (SWRCC), announced a plan last week to introduce a bill in 2024 to address the rampant problem of wage theft, which is especially prevalent in the construction industry.

Mark Thompson of the SWRCC expressed deep concern about the issue, stating in a news release, “Wage theft is the most common form of theft in our State.”

Duran, who represents House District 23, emphasized the demographic impact, particularly on Latino workers.

She noted in the release, “Latino workers are the demographic group most likely to experience wage theft. This group makes up 20% of Colorado workers but 28% of the ‘high wage theft risk’ category.”

Drawing from a 2022 Colorado Fiscal Institute report, Duran’s statement sheds light on the disproportionate effects of wage theft on minority communities.

Froelich, from House District 3, said, “Our bill builds on the previous work of this legislature, where we have put a path to justice in place for workers whose wages have been stolen. But we need further clarity because stolen wages mean stolen rent money, stolen school supplies, stolen healthcare, and stolen food from our working families.”

Froelich’s commitment reflects a broader legislative agenda to protect the rights and dignity of workers in Colorado.

According to the Colorado Fiscal Institute’s report, an estimated $700 million in wages are unlawfully withheld from Colorado workers each year, disproportionately impacting those in low-income roles and minority groups. This staggering sum underscores the necessity for the bill championed by state legislators and the SWRCC, specifically targeting the construction sector — an industry notoriously plagued by wage theft.