Image by Joe Amditis.

A Labor Day tribute to Documented and public service journalism

Happy Labor Day, New Jersey!

Joe Amditis
Center for Cooperative Media
4 min readSep 4


Today we honor the history and contributions of workers and the labor movement in the United States — but the fight for worker rights is an ongoing struggle.

In that spirit, I wanted to take this opportunity to spotlight and celebrate a groundbreaking new tool that is not only timely but incredibly relevant, especially amidst the ongoing wave of labor organizing and unionization efforts sweeping the nation:

That new tool is the Wage Theft Monitor by Documented NY.

What is wage theft?

Think of wage theft as the silent pickpocket at work — employers withholding wages or failing to pay workers the minimum or overtime wages they’re legally entitled to. This isn’t just numbers on paper — these are lives affected, disproportionately impacting women, immigrants, and people of color.

Wage theft harms workers, their families, and their communities. It’s not only a violation of labor laws — it’s a violation of human dignity and justice.

Why the Wage Theft Monitor is a game-changer

Based in New York City, Documented focuses on immigration issues and recently released the Wage Theft Monitor.

Imagine Google Maps, but instead of finding the nearest coffee shop, you’re locating businesses found guilty of wage theft. This interactive map, built using data from the state and federal Departments of Labor, is a treasure trove for journalists and consumers.

You can sort businesses by zip code and industry, providing a hyper-local angle that is especially relevant for New Jersey residents living close to New York.

Beyond the numbers

What sets this tool apart is the depth of its data. Documented has compiled tens of thousands of labor violation records from January 2012 to December 2022 — the largest public repository of data on New York businesses found guilty of wage theft.

Although the data only scratches the surface of an estimated $1–4 billion in stolen wages in New York State alone, it’s a substantial step forward.

For journalists, this is like having a seasoned informant. It’s a starting point for deeper investigations into labor conditions, especially in dangerous work environments.

A salute to public service journalism

As we enjoy this Labor Day, let’s take a moment to celebrate not just the workers, but also the journalists and organizations committed to public service journalism. Tools like the Wage Theft Monitor are prime examples of how journalism can go beyond storytelling and become an actionable resource for communities.

Documented NY’s work with the Wage Theft Monitor does just that. It serves as a public utility, a beacon for workers’ rights, and a starting point for countless impactful stories that could drive legislative changes and workplace reforms. This is the kind of journalism that doesn’t just inform but empowers and catalyzes action.

And while the Wage Theft Monitor only focuses on New York, it highlights the palpable need for a similar tool right here in New Jersey. As we laud Documented NY’s initiative, we should also consider it a call to action for Garden State journalists and policymakers to create a similar resource that addresses wage theft and workers’ rights in our own backyard.

Sounds like a perfect opportunity for some good old collaborative journalism, if you ask me.

Anyway, here’s to the public service journalists and newsrooms out there who work hard every day to arm us with the information we need to make our communities better, fairer, and more just.

May your Labor Day be a reminder of the transformative power of diligent reporting and community-focused journalism.

Joe Amditis is assistant director of products and events at the Center for Cooperative Media. Contact him at or on Twitter at @jsamditis.

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a primarily grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with operational and project funding from Montclair State University, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, NJ Civic Information Consortium, Rita Allen Foundation, Inasmuch Foundation and the Independence Public Media Foundation. For more information, visit



Joe Amditis
Center for Cooperative Media

Associate director of products + events, Center for Cooperative Media; host + producer, WTF Just Happened Today podcast.