You got fired and your boss still owes you your 4% that he promises you "for next week" every week for two months? The company you work for has closed and the bosses have paid their creditors in whom they own shares of the company, but not you and your colleagues? Accumulated hours are due to you and were never paid to you after the end of your employment contract?
Unfortunately, this type of situation happens very frequently.. Indeed, many bosses circumvent wage and benefit laws or tend to make “oversights” or “mistakes” that benefit them, only to then leave them lying around despite our repeated requests for them to be resolved. There is always the administrative labor tribunal to help us, but more often than not we need that money NOW to pay our rent and we can't wait several months to get it. What recourse do we have??
Well, the SITT-IWW has something to offer…
Pay your claims, you say?
The SITT-IWW has helped many people to resolve these kinds of situations through direct action and solidarity since 2009. We call this whole process a “claim your pay”. How it works? It's simple! First of all, you receive a call or email from someone (member or not of the SITT-IWW) having a problem to solve. We then send one or two members to meet her to learn about the file., then help him develop a strategy to put pressure on his employer (or ex-employer) so that he has to give in and return the money in a very short time, generally ranging from immediate to, at most, 48h.
Okay, but does it work?
Yes. As a matter of fact, the success rate of this type of action is close to the 100%. On the other hand, it is important to mention that a claim your pay cannot be improvised! For this reason, the SITT-IWW makes available the experience of its members in order to avoid as much as possible the errors which could make your claim fail your pay or, even worse, cause you trouble.
And how much does it cost?
Nothing! Our mission is to equip workers so that they can pass on their knowledge and help others in turn.. It's a bit of a "pay it forward".
Why is the campaign asking for your pay being brought back to the front for 2023 ?
Because 2023 promises to be a difficult year. Knowing that a programmed recession is coming, it is likely that many workers will lose their jobs in the coming year and beyond. Furthermore, with the dramatic increase in the cost of living in the last year, more and more of us now live in poverty. The apparent generosity of the bosses to lure us in during staff shortages will surely evaporate when they no longer need us and many people are likely to find themselves in typical cases of claiming your pay.. This is why this campaign will probably be more relevant than ever in the near future and why we want to bring it back to the fore..
Someone had heard about the
IWW from a friend, got in touch with the union through the Internet and
arranged to meet and discuss ways to claim a stolen salary. That’s actually how
many of our Claim Your Pay campaigns begin, but our most recent one was a bit
out of the ordinary. This is the story of a victorious campaign, the biggest in
the history of our branch thus far.
In her first message sent to the IWW at the end of January, a worker tells us about a chic restaurant that had closed its doors, and workers having their paychecks bouncing back and worked hours not being paid. We decided to call her to hear more about the situation, to then find out that there were 11 workers from that restaurant who unpaid hours and/or bounced paychecks! The information is passed on to the union volunteers taking care of Claim Your Pay campaigns. Considering the magnitude of the situation, a team of 3 Wobblies is formed. Quickly, we organized a meeting with as many workers as possible. 5 of the 11 workers attended this first meeting, where we added up every salary that was to be claimed through the campaign, and came to realize that more than $20 000 were at stake! We also noted down all relevant information about the restaurant’s boss : in addition to the closed restaurant, he co-owns a chain of coffee shops in Montreal and a coffee distribution company. He also has a bad habit of not paying his employees; the workers at the meeting had heard stories similar to their own spanning the last 10 years. That meant that the boss wouldn’t be easily impressed. This time however, the claims were organized and supported by a union. Not wasting any time, we established a calendar with the direct actions that were to be undertaken in the upcoming weeks.
All the IWW campaigns to claim stolen wages rely on direct action. The workers at our meeting had all made a complaint to CNESST, except for one who was getting paid under the table. But these complaints can take up to a year or more before a worker can gain their claim, and for many workers, a year is way too long to wait when the amount due is three to four work-weeks. Direct action puts pressure on the employers by convincing them that they have more to lose if they do not pay their employees, all without going through the legal system. The workers are always the ones democratically choosing the actions that will be taken to win their claim, even though the supporting union members can always suggest some.
The first step was to send letters of demands to their boss asking for each of the stolen salaries, informing him of the precise amounts that he needed to pay and that a union was now on the case. While the letters were on their way to his mailbox, the boss contacted one of the workers, with the intention to pay her after she had just complained publicly. Members of the union accompanied the worker to that meeting, seizing the opportunity to hand him the letters of demands. He took them without any reaction, and we did not hear from him. No message, no phone call… Time to take action !
We started by sending emails denouncing the situation to many of his work partners, without any result. We continued our actions with a phone zap, during which many people called the owner’s business to block telephone lines for two hours, followed by a negative comments blitz on the business’ social media (Facebook, Google, Yelp, etc). To add public pressure, we published on the union’s blog an article exposing him and all the unpaid salaries. At this point, 3 weeks have gone by and some workers started receiving messages from the boss threatening them with a lawsuit and claiming that he wasn’t scared of a union. Still mounting the pressure, the next action began in early March, by showing up in front of the coffee shops he co-owns and flyering. The managers freaked out a little bit, but we managed to flyer for three days in a row and in front of 3 different coffee shops without much trouble.
It is during that week that the union finally gets contacted by the boss to arrange a meeting, which took place on March 14th. During this meeting, he served us the usual platitudes : ‘’It’s only a misunderstanding, I’m the real victim here, we could have just talked this out, no need to attack me’’ and etc. Nevertheless, we still got out of that meeting with about $12 000 in checks! Six out of the 11 workers were now fully paid, but there were still 5 workers with unpaid wages.
The rest of the campaign scales over 4 months, during which we discussed and negotiated with the boss to get the rest of the stolen salaries. At some point, it seemed to us that the boss was ignoring us, so we organized another small flyering action at two of his coffee shops, to get his attention once more. The campaign was fully victorious last June 19th, when the remaining paychecks were finally delivered by their employer. One worker did not receive all of her wages, because she decided to stop the direct action campaign and to throw all of weight behind her complaint to the CNESST. We care to mention that the worker that was working under the table has had her full salary paid, and without any particular difficulty.
In total, the efforts from these 11 workers and the union have helped claim $20 995 in unpaid work hours and indemnities. Without any doubt, a direct action campaign means more work than simply filing a complaint, but this victory shows us once more that armed with solidarity, we can overcome any obstacle and build a better world for tomorrow.
Someone hears about the IWW by un.e ami.e, we contact us online and we arrange to meet and discuss ways to take to claim the stolen wages. This is how many of our start campaigns Reclaim your pay, but our most recent will is not bound to the ordinary. Tale of a victorious campaign, the biggest in the history of our industry.
In his first message in late January, a worker tells of a chic restaurant closed, checks that bounced and more hours worked but not paid. They call to ask for more details, and we learn that they are 11 employé.e.s closed restaurant have bounced checks and / or unpaid wages! The information is relayed to the voluntary union for campaigns Reclaim your pay, and at the magnitude of the case, a team of three Wobblies is formed. Quickly, a meeting is organized with the greatest possible travailleurs.euses. At this first meeting, 5 of the 11 are presented, we count all wages to demand to realize that more than 20 000$ are at stake! We also note all relevant information about the boss: in addition to the closed restaurant, He is also co-owner of a chain of coffee shops in Montreal and coffee distribution company. He also has a habit of not paying its employé.e.s; the travailleurs.euses have heard similar stories in their, which spread on 10 last years. The boss will not easily let impress. This time, against, the claim will be organized and supported by a union. We do not lose anything to wait, we immediately establish a schedule of direct action to do in the coming weeks.
All campaigns SITT-IWW to claim stolen wages are based on direct action. The 11 employé.e.s have everyone made a complaint to the CNESST (except one, who worked in the black), but these complaints can easily take a year to reach a payment. For more travailleurs.euses, One year is too much to wait for three to four weeks of payroll. Direct action puts pressure on the employer to convince him that he has more to lose if he does not pay, without going through the legal. It is always the travailleurs.euses who democratically choose what actions, although union members can suggest them some.
The first step is to send letters of request to the boss, to remind him of the amounts payable and to inform the union is now on the case. While the letters are being delivered, the boss contacts a worker of 11 with the intention of paying it after she complained publicly. union members accompanied to this meeting, taking the opportunity to put the application letters to the boss personally. He takes the letters without reacting and not receiving any message from them by mail / e-mail or phone. It's time to start actions.
We start by sending emails denouncing the situation in several bosses in case of partners, without results. then continues with a "phone zap", where for two hours several people continually call to shops boss to block phone lines, and a blitz of negative comments on the pages of its companies (facebook, google, yelp, etc). To raise public pressure, is published on the website of the union an article that directly exposes the boss and unpaid wages. At this stage, three weeks have passed and certain.e.s travailleurs.euses receive boss Messages for, in short, threaten them with lawsuits and tell them that the union does not scare him. The next action, early March, continues escalating pressure tactics, this time physically with cafes whose boss is co-owner to distribute leaflets at the entrance. The managers are panicking a little, but we managed to pull three days to three coffees without too much trouble.
This is the week of towing the union is finally contacted by the boss to arrange a meeting, held the 14 mars. When it, it serves us the usual stories: "This is a misunderstanding, I'm the real victim, we could just talk not need to attack me ", etc. Rest you leave the meeting about 12 000$ checks! 6 of the 11 Former employé.e.s are now completely payé.e.s, there are still a few thousand to claim for 5 other.
The rest of the campaign covers 4 month, during which we discuss and negotiate with the boss to get the rest of salaries. One time, it seems that the boss ignores us, then organized a small action of towing two of its cafes, to get back his attention. The whole story is concluded on 19 June, when the last checks we are supplied by the employer. One worker did not have any money, and it is because it has decided to stop the campaign of direct action and rely solely on complaints it filed with the CNESST. It was noted that the worker who was being paid below the table has received his money, without particular difficulty.
In total, efforts 11 travailleurs.euses and the union have helped claim 20 995$, in unpaid hours 4%. Certainly a direct action campaign involves more work than the single gesture of complaint, but this considerable victory shows us once again qu'armé.e.s solidarity, we can overcome all obstacles, and build a better world for tomorrow.
Monday 18 March, two former employees of a fast food restaurant have contacted us for unpaid wages worth more 1000$ and legal documents that were not submitted their. We met the next morning in order to help them obtain and have decided to initiate a process of claiming your payroll with them.
The next day (Wednesday), Three of our members have met the restaurant owner to give him a letter explaining the situation and our commitment that its former employees were paid. While we demand the immediate settlement of the conflict, there was very little (no see) cooperative and did not want to read the letter we handed him nor give his former employees what to them. So we left the place as we prepare the next steps of the process.
In discussing this with the two former workers at the exit of the restaurant, we learned that a third person was in this same situation. We then contacted and asked if she wanted to be involved in the process and she accepted. Immediately our phone call ended with her, We have received confirmation that the boss had decided to change his mind and that he would pay his former employees. The whole thing is set in the same day.
In conclusion : while we are often encouraged to go only by the labor standards for this type of litigation and that this process can take months, we once again proof that solidarity and direct action allow us to get there in a few days, see in a few hours!
* Remi contacted us because his former employer, who has a housekeeping company, had not paid him the wages he owed him for nearly two months. Not far from 300$. Either the food for a solid month, or a good portion of the rent.
He had worked for her boss a full weekend. Fourteen hours. The boss had to get back to him and send his schedule earlier this week. After a few days without news, Rémi concluded that it would not make other shifts. He started trying to get the salary that was rightfully his.
You will be more to recognize you in his situation. When a boss wants to talk to you, you are better respond rapidly worse. Enwoye, press it, there is no time and money to waste. When the reverse against by, suddenly, there is no urgency.
Call after call, no answer. The boss finally replied to a text message asking Remi sent him an email by sample check in order to make him a bank transfer, which he did on the spot. A few days pass, nothing. Rémi against him by, it is hard and he rewrote his boss, only to be told to send back an email with a sample check. Once again, without new, no transfer.
It will retry again, but radio silence, his former boss gave no sign of life. Few weeks later, Rémi happening by chance to one of our posters Reclaim your pay and we called.
He explained his situation and how we operate. So we established a game plan quickly. Direct actions to the menu. On the other hand, as we ask anyone who contacts us : a final call is suggested, but this time mentioning having contacted a solidarity union!
Well, the word union is still afraid! When Remi told his former boss that he had called and we were about to get in step, suddenly, the boss has become ben ben conciliatory and a few minutes later, he shed his unpaid wages!
All this to say, ensemble, when one is standing and we stick together, results are obtained. And the small victories, it is essential to build a little solidarity. Congratulations for your perseverance Rémi!
The 20 March, an organizer of the local section IWW Quebec got wind that a man he knew had been a victim of constructive dismissal (decrease to lack of working hours) at Le Moine Échanson on St-Jean in Quebec. Not having been officially dismissed, the worker had not received his 4%, his papers termination for unemployment and T4 (he should have received since nearly a month already, returned or not, Anyway). Furthermore, some of its hours worked still had it not been paid wages.
The worker had tried several times to get them, but in vain. The organizer offered him using IWWs and the worker immediately accepted. He was met two days later to schedule a type of campaign "Redeems your pay". Although man received payment for hours worked on the same day, his papers and his 4% still missing. The campaign was thus officially engaged.
The boss was quickly met on working hours by a group of Wobblies who handed him a letter with a few days ultimatum to surrender all his documents to the worker without which further action would take place. It does no more took to the visibly shaken boss sends all its documents to the worker and that everything ended with a victory.
I want to share with you a small victory " Reclaim Your Payroll "That happened some time ago, because these victories, there are equally important. Sometimes, must make do with what we have, and even if there are not many, we CAN do something. The story is a bit complex to explain in writing, it will be long, stay with me, I will learn to brief possibly.
I found myself démerder an employer in an emergency, while making me promise an employment contract. Every week, there was a good excuse to postpone our meeting (which was to be paired with a training) : schedule overloaded, oversight, move, influenza, etc. Meanwhile, I continue to do the work that is expected, Payroll takes time to arrive, and the employer asks me to do commissions that are not part of my task list, but since this is an emergency and that the client is in the hospital for weeks, I pounded on my rant…
This week, It was 21 days I still had not received pay. Monday, I again contacted the employer, explaining very clearly that I will not be financially able to move around for work, I have accounts (astheure late, thanks to you!) to pay, a basic need 3 meals per day, and I have no guarantee to charge me by the end of the year (if ever!), and that all this stress a few weeks before the holidays (melodrama), ben, it is really useless. I was told that the client had no other way than making a check since it is still in the hospital when, "Could you go get your check to the hospital? "And as long as I do errands, I also had : bring personal effects to the lady, make him fulfill the contract, send digitized signatures, cash the check and make him the Interac e-transfer taxes.
Non, more, ok. I'm hungry, worse j'tannée, Calisia.
This morning, so I am going to beg my money early to hospital. The lady explained that she had completed a contract ALREADY, she asked a COPY of the contract, but the employer told her that she had not sent because it is in the removal of boxes. The employer did me no notice of this reality, it pissed me deeply Drette there. I try to explain that to my side the information that I had to fulfill the contract and take signatures, but she refuses, and still do not understand why it is impossible to provide a copy of a contract already filled, signed and dated. She was not wrong. when we do the same signatures, but it does not fulfill the contract because it wants to discuss with the employer directly. To check, she refuses me do it my own name since it deals with the employer / company and a contract has been signed anyway. Once again, it not wrong. Now, the check is sent to the employer. I try to reach by phone, all my calls are sent directly to voicemail. My messages remain "unread". Impossible for me to have my due. I leave empty-handed, and crunches.
I leave yet another message to the employer to tell him to come and take his check with me so I can finally have my salary. The employer replied (after a big delay) he will check with his bank if I can still cash the check. Without surprise : non. I try to reach by phone, and I'm saying "can you stop calling me lol" and the employer refuses to move, he wants me to send him a check by P A N T E (I not silly). But there's still plusses : it gives me the street address P R E C O N N E L L E!!!!! Jackpot!?!
Having blown a lead, I called 2 Fellow workeuses who are in the same field as me to discuss the best alternatives given my situation. As I do not have a set contract with the employer and that I am self-employed, I have only one good option before actually starting a Reclaim Your Pay : introduce myself there at the address of the employer (thank you for giving me so kindly hinhin), and require payment of my salary live in my face. I made my little Yesman ™ and I wonder if it would therefore not ben simplest I come blithely drop him the check to his humble abode "we're just 20 minutes of each other lol ". The employer said YES. Jackpot, #2?!?!
While I was on my way, he began to argue (by posts) on amounts due from my salary, "I take a 40$ here for X-Y-Z really cellar reason, and one 20$ Z-Y-X even more because cellar ", I totally refused (lel). He also wanted to remove me 40$ my salary because the employer was the employee who referred me to this employer (WtF). I told him that the money of others did not concern me, and I wanted to be paid for the work that I DID during these 21 days. Since I have no time to fool around and my partner was available, I showed up at the employer with him. He waited in the car, subject to effective presence (the few times that playing the patriarchy map can be favorable!), while I rang the door, bills in hand.
The employer owed me 460.00$, I left with 540.00$.
STAY STRONG, FWs!
We can do it all even when the possibility seems bleak!
After two years to get involved in volunteer IWW Communication Committee, I had never seen it. Little Sarah history, dismissed the counter vegan Antidote to days of Christmas, and that after experiencing bullying and abuse of power, went viral.
In less than 24 hours, words of hope and gestures of solidarity poured in from all sides. Ten of thousands of views on our blog, I almost feel like work for Your Small or vice Look, with the difference that in the comment section, it was a love breathtaking Sarah received instead of the traditional look forward mails.
There is a modern version of Christmas Carol. In 2017, just days before the Eve, a young dynamic entrepreneur that imbued itself, owner of a trendy restaurant in a neighborhood undergoing gentrification process, dismisses his employee.
Mention it before going further : dismiss an employee e-restoration in the middle of December, Also as to wish him a Christmas without gifts or to offer small dishes to be made to Eve, is wish him a happy three or four months of unemployment, no unemployment, the time the basins of the industry to reopen the arrival of spring.
Through a friend, Sarah came into contact with the ghost of Combat Unionism who agreed to share her story. You know the rest, the story became viral and social media were inflamed. If we were in a Christmas story, at the end of the third act, the owner would have repented, but the reality of the bosses-employee-s relationships being what it is, she published earlier tearful text to explain that from the depths of his success, it's a little she actually suffered.
Everything was, she is young and has so much to learn, she did not know that you could not fire someone morally-e by text. She was forced to fire her now, cheap shot par on text, because the warning two weeks in advance and allow time for the employee to prepare (as bosses ask us), fitait it not in its priorities. It looked like a caricature all output module right on employer responses in the Organization of Training 101 IWW.
In parallel crocodile tears of the patron who, to believe what we see on Facebook, have not touched anyone other than two or three owners in similar situations or close friends, Those are former-born employees who have contacted us to tell us of similar experiences, the story of a small producer in the Gaspé had trouble getting paid rebounded, and many and many other workers restoring explaining recognize themselves in this situation so too frequent. But perhaps more importantly, People from all over Montreal have written to express their sympathy and offer their solidarity to Sarah.
Between the words of encouragement, such a free room, this one has a sofa available if needed, this one is food for the dog, another heard about a job and those on temporary contracts, see offer permanent jobs to offer. Class consciousness, ras-le-bol hellish working conditions of the restaurant industry or simply the spirit of Christmas? No matter for now, solidarity beyond all our expectations and for that, by Sarah, but all and all members of the IWW, we offer our sincere thanks and wish you a great holiday season.
Photo credit: Katerine-Lune Rollet, February 2015.
A few weeks ago, a restoration employee, assistant cook, contacted us because he had problems (sic) pay with his employer. His boss demanded him an amount she had paid him too much by mistake, and rather than show him and make an agreement with him, she went directly to dip into its next payroll without telling. And not a little, more than three quarters of his pay.