Jun 18, 2012
Companies are stealing billions of dollars from their workers every year. Low-wage workers are robbed the most. Tips are stolen from restaurant servers; illegal deductions are made from workers’ pay checks; overtime wages aren’t paid or workers are paid less than the legal minimum. Workers are mis-classified as “independent contractors” to allow companies to avoid paying unemployment insurance.
A survey of thousands of low-wage workers in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York showed that two-thirds suffered some sort of wage theft every week. A Grand Rapids, Michigan member of a task force that recently studied the problem, said: “There wasn’t a place that we went where we didn’t find someone with a story.” Another study shows that in Houston, Texas alone, wage theft costs workers more than 753 million dollars a year!
This robbery of workers has increased dramatically in recent years. Union organization and enforcement of contracts and regulations has declined. Funding has been cut for government wage and hour enforcement agencies and the number of investigators reduced. In 1941, the Labor Department had one enforcement agent for every 11,000 workers in the U.S. Now it has one for every 141,000 workers! A 2010 survey found that in 43 states and the District of Columbia there was only one state investigator for every 146,000 workers!
It’s no accident that the thieves step up their robbery when they think no one is looking!