The Fresno City Council approved a resolution Thursday giving City Attorney Andrew Janz the ability to prosecute local wage theft cases, in accordance with a new state law.
Councilmembers also spoke out against the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, not only for its opposition to the resolution, but for alleged political threats against certain councilmembers.
The big picture: The council unanimously approved the resolution, pursuant to Assembly Bill 594, which gives public prosecutors the authority to prosecute Labor Code violations.
- Janz’s team will forward wage theft cases to the State Labor Commissioner, and after 30 days, if the state has not taken action, Janz will be free to move forward with investigating and prosecuting the cases.
What they’re saying: Councilmembers Miguel Arias and Garry Bredefeld said the Fresno Chamber of Commerce made threats to councilmembers that there would be political retaliation if they moved forward with it.
- “Frankly I think they should be ashamed of their position in objecting to workers being paid and thieves being held accountable,” Arias said. “Not only have they objected to this proposal, but they’ve engaged in political threats against members of this body for doing our basic job.”
- Arias added, “It’s one thing to suggest changes to public policy that may strengthen it, is one thing to suggest that we don’t have the full scope of the problem. It’s another thing for them to threaten and attempt to completely eliminate good public policy.”
- Bredefeld said he became aware that leadership from the Chamber of Commerce made threats of a “political price to pay” over the wage theft program.
- “That’s a disgrace,” Bredefeld said. “I didn’t get that call. I think they know better than to call me with any kind of threats. But it’s a disgrace, and I think the chamber ought to take a look at its leadership if that is in fact the case, and figure out who the hell they think they’re dealing with in terms of elected officials and threatening them to get what they want.”
The other side: Fresno Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Miller told GV Wire that he had a request from a member of the board to put the endorsement of Councilman Tyler Maxwell – who authored the resolution – up for review.
- Miller added that he was not threatening to pull the endorsement and does not have the power to do that on his own.
- “Those comments were entirely uncalled for and bombastic and extremely inaccurate,” Miller told GV Wire regarding what Arias said.