The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Cheating Low Wage Workers

Sep 14, 2009

Two out of three low wage workers in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York were cheated out of some wages, according to a new study by researchers from UCLA and City University of New York. After surveying more than 4,000 workers in low wage jobs such as manufacturing, retail and child care, they reported that low wage workers lost an average of $51 in wages in the previous week. And these were workers who only earned $339 a week to begin with.

Employers used a variety of tricks to steal their employees’ wages. For example, more than 90% of these workers did not file for workers’ comp when they were injured on the job and lost some pay because of company pressure. One out of every seven workers had worked “off the clock,” that is, the employers had forced these workers to give free labor during the past week. And three quarters of these workers had done overtime in the previous week without being paid any overtime premium.

Almost half of those workers who dared to file a report or lodge a formal complaint, either with their boss or the government, suffered retaliation, such as being fired.

The only surprise in all this is that officials from the U.S. Department of Labor dare to act shocked and surprised at this report.