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Workers press Minneapolis for wage theft protection

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Mya Bradford supports an ordinance that would prevent wage theft
Mya Bradford (center) is a restaurant worker in Minneapolis who supports an ordinance that would prevent wage theft. She gathered at Minneapolis City Hall Friday with dozens of other supporters.
Brandt Williams | MPR News

A coalition of workers' rights advocates gathered Friday at Minneapolis City Hall to support a so-called wage theft prevention ordinance that would target employers who underpay or refuse to pay workers what they've earned.

"I really hope this law changes people's lives drastically," said Mya Bradford, a restaurant worker who claims her employer has illegally withheld thousands of dollars in tips from her and her coworkers. "I want to help mothers like me not have to stress so much about basic necessities, and not have to work 24/7 so they can spend time with their kids. Because that's what really matters."

The City Council also introduced a similar ordinance that would extend similar protections for freelance workers.

Council member Steve Fletcher said he's grateful that state legislators passed a law in the most recent session making wage theft a crime.

The proposal, he said, "complements state law by adding wage theft prevention into city ordinance so that we can enforce it to, so that our city staff can work with employers to explain the expectations and so that there's one place you can go for enforcement if you're a worker in Minneapolis."

The measure must still go through the City Council committee process and get a public hearing before council members take a final vote later this summer.