Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day 2009: Not all labor fair

Most of us may not be aware that growing numbers of American workers face real challenges at work around a very central issue: fair compensation for actual work performed. Not all American companies follow ethical compensation practices.

The facts reported in a recent edition of The New York Times seems a fitting "meditation" on this national Labor Day. Honoring working people is a practice we need a lot more of. Possibly the best way to honor folks who work is to join them in insisting that they receive fair and promised wages for work accomplished.

Read the report and tell me what you think:

Low-Wage Workers Are Often Cheated, Study Says
Published: September 1, 2009

Low-wage workers are routinely denied proper overtime pay and are often paid less than the minimum wage, according to a new study based on a survey of workers in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The study, the most comprehensive examination of wage-law violations in a decade, also found that 68 percent of the workers interviewed had experienced at least one pay-related violation in the previous work week.

“We were all surprised by the high prevalence rate,” said Ruth Milkman, one of the study’s authors and a sociology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the City University of New York. The study, to be released on Wednesday, was financed by the Ford, Joyce, Haynes and Russell Sage Foundations.

In surveying 4,387 workers in various low-wage industries, including apparel manufacturing, child care and discount retailing, the researchers found that the typical worker had lost $51 the previous week through wage violations, out of average weekly earnings of $339. That translates into a 15 percent loss in pay.

The researchers said one of the most surprising findings was how successful low-wage employers were in pressuring workers not to file for workers’ compensation. Only 8 percent of those who suffered serious injuries on the job filed for compensation to pay for medical care and missed days at work stemming from those injuries.

Read the entire report here.

We should be doing better than this.


Daniel said...

A brother at church works as a cook at the neighborhood market around the corner from our house. Yesterday, he was telling me that one of the other cooks was leaving and the owner would probably not be replacing him. He works on salary about 60 hrs. a week, and said he would have to work 7/12 hour days without an increase in overtime/pay. He was more worried about his family than the fact that he was not getting compensated for overtime or renegotiating his salary. He knows his owner his violating FLSA, but it sounds like he's making enough that he really doesn't have any better options.

rcorum said...

Sorry to post here about the President's speech to students, but the text just came out. As a conservative, I for one think the speech is not only inspiring, but should heard by every student in America. I hate to admit it, but I was wrong with my initial issues with the speech, in fact it sounds like something that Reagan would have said. The Right needs to be very careful which battles to fight. This one is not only not worth a fight it is one we should all be united on. Are we not all for a great education for the children of America?

Larry James said...

Thanks, RC. I appreciate your spirit, it's one we all need to embrace.