Iowa rep: 'Huge problem' with wage theft in Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa rep: 'Huge problem' with wage theft in Iowa

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

Some employees claim a large eastern Iowa packaging supply company is stealing their wages -- not paying them for the hours they work -- and an Iowa representative says it's a "huge problem" across the state.

Members of the Center for Workers Justice announced Tuesday that they are taking action against RockTenn after hearing several stories of alleged wage theft among other problems.

"They need to make sure that everyone gets paid for every hour they spend working on that line," said Misty Rebik, executive director of Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa.

About a dozen current and former workers of  Sedona Staffing and CFA Staffing, two temporary agencies who contracts with RockTenn, say they've stolen their hard-earned money.

"Everyone needs to be paid a livable wage and a wage that they've earned and the agreements that they've made. That just ought to be the law, and it is unjust when that doesn't happen," said Iowa State Representative Art Staed.

The employees allege the large packaging supply company required them to get to work close to an hour before each shift, but claims they were never paid for that extra time.

"I went to ask for my check, and the woman said, 'Immigrants like you, you have no rights to a check,'" said Martha, a former RockTenn employee.

A daunting accusation, one that RockTenn wouldn't respond to.

KWWL went to the RockTenn factory and was told their corporate legal affairs department in Georgia would contact us if they want to respond to the alleged wage theft.

Martha says she went to management to try to recover her wages and was denied.

"But after they came here and we organized and collected the facts. we actually sent a delegation of people to go with them to recover their wages, they magically found their checks," said Rebik.

Center for Worker Justice were able to get three workers' wages during the summer, including Martha's.

Now other workers say they want their money too, so the Center for Worker Justice members say they've filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor.

"Shorting them on how much they pay them -- It's a huge problem across Iowa. There are many many employees apparently doing it, and there's no penalties," said Iowa State Senator Joe Bolkcom.

Bolkcom says some of the workers are undocumented workers, while others are American citizens.

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