Democrats in the Iowa Senate want the state to hire two new wage fraud investigators. Senator Bill Dotzler a Democrat from Waterloo, says a report by the “liberal-leaning” Iowa Policy Project indicates many Iowa workers aren’t being paid as much as they were promised.
“Possibly up as high as $600 million in wages aren’t being paid to workers who deserve it in Iowa,” Dotzler says.
Over 400 Iowans have complaints filed with the Iowa Workforce Development agency today, but Dotzler says there’s just one full-time employee who’s handling those investigations, along with allegations of child labor law violations.
“Iowans who are here that might have limited speaking ability in English are really being taken advantage of and that hurts Iowa employers because you have somebody who’s paying somebody next to nothing to begin with and then you don’t even pay ’em,” Dotzler says.
“And Iowa contractors who are playing by the rules are at a real disadvantage.” Dotzler says he’s met Iowans who have suffered “tremendous hardships” after working, but not being paid.
“They’re hard-working people and we need ’em here in Iowa. We’re short workforce, especially under what we consider lower skilled jobs. If they weren’t here, I don’t know what we would do, and so I think we need to make sure that they’re treated fairly and I think Iowans want that.”
Last year, Democrats failed to convince Republicans to hire just one new wage enforcement investigator. Republicans say they want more evidence there’s a real problem to solve.
This dispute is just one of hundreds that has to be resolved before Republicans and Democrats can agree on a final draft of next year’s state budget.