Behind the minimum wage fight, a sweeping failure to enforce the law

from Politico

As Democrats make raising the minimum wage a centerpiece of their 2018 campaigns, and Republicans call for states to handle the issue, both are missing an important problem: Wage laws are poorly enforced, with workers often unable to recover back pay even after the government rules in their favor.

That’s the conclusion of a nine-month investigation by POLITICO, which found that workers are so lightly protected that six states have no investigators to handle minimum-wage violations, while 26 additional states have fewer than 10 investigators. Given the widespread nature of wage theft and the dearth of resources to combat it, most cases go unreported. Thus, an estimated $15 billion in desperately needed income for workers with lowest wages goes instead into the pockets of shady bosses.

But even those workers who are able to brave the system and win — to get states to order their bosses to pay them what they’re owed — confront a further barrier: Fully 41 percent of the wages that employers are ordered to pay back to their workers aren’t recovered, according to a POLITICO survey of 15 states.

That’s partly because, in addition to lacking resources, states lack the tools to go after the landscaping firms, restaurants, cleaning companies and other employers that shed one corporate skin for another, changing names while essentially continuing the same businesses — often to evade orders to pay back their workers…

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New York City limousine driver kills himself in protest over poverty wages

by Sandy English, WSWS

On Monday morning, Douglas Schifter, a career limousine driver, shot and killed himself in a rental car in front of New York City Hall in lower Manhattan. A suicide note explained his act was a protest against the political and corporate establishment for systematically lowering the standard of living of professional drivers.

In a defiant note posted on his Facebook account before his suicide, Schifter observed that he had been working nearly 100-120 consecutive hours a week for the last 14 years, up from 50 hours weekly in 1981 when he started to drive professionally.

“Companies do not care how they abuse us just so the executives get their bonuses,” Schifter wrote. “They have not paid us fair rates for some time now. Due to the huge numbers of cars available with desperate drivers trying to feed their families they squeeze rates to below operating costs and force professionals like me out of business. They count their money and we are driven down into the streets we drive becoming homeless and hungry. I will not be a slave working for chump change. I would rather be dead.”…

[read more here]

California’s Homeless Problem in One Video

Angels stadium, Anaheim. along the Santa Ana River

And Cali lawmakers want to help Big Business some more by making it a sanctuary state and bringing in even more cheap labor.

Trashed: Inside the Deadly World of Private Garbage Collection

by Kiera Feldman, from ProPublica

Shortly before 5 a.m. on a recent November night, a garbage truck with a New York Yankees decal on the side sped through a red light on an empty street in the Bronx. The two workers aboard were running late. Before long, they would start getting calls from their boss. “Where are you on the route? Hurry up, it shouldn’t take this long.” Theirs was one of 133 garbage trucks owned by Action Carting, the largest waste company in New York City, which picks up the garbage and recycling from 16,700 businesses.

Going 20 miles per hour above the city’s 25 mph limit, the Action truck ran another red light with a worker, called a “helper,” hanging off the back. Just a few miles away the week before, another man had died in the middle of the night beneath the wheels of another company’s garbage truck. The Action truck began driving on the wrong side of the road in preparation for the next stop. The workers were racing to pick up as much garbage as possible before dawn arrived and the streets filled with slow traffic. “This route should take you twelve hours,” the boss often told them. “It shouldn’t take you fourteen hours.”

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The Real Future of Work

by Danny Vinik, from Politico

In 2013, Diana Borland and 129 of her colleagues filed into an auditorium at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Borland had worked there for the past 13 years as a medical transcriptionist, typing up doctors’ audio recordings into written reports. The hospital occasionally held meetings in the auditorium, so it seemed like any other morning.

The news she heard came as a shock: A UPMC representative stood in front of the group and told them their jobs were being outsourced to a contractor in Massachusetts. The representative told them it wouldn’t be a big change, since the contractor, Nuance Communications, would rehire them all for the exact same position and the same hourly pay. There would just be a different name on their paychecks.

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The fate of the American worker (News With Ed video)

from RT

United Steelworkers president Leo Gerard and former president of Communications Workers of America (CWA) Larry Cohen speak to “News with Ed” about the decline of organized labor, the impact of changing trade policy and tax reform, and the likely effects of Donald Trump’s presidency on the future of America’s working families.

Amazon Drivers Urinate In Bottles To Keep Schedule