Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wage Theft Repeat Offenders All Too Common

This Thursday, WIN invites you to join in a picket at Ranger Construction Company. WIN members are gathering at 9:00 a.m. on October 1st outside the company offices at 6058 Raleigh LaGrange Rd.

Why? Because Juan Diaz and Juan De Dios Cano worked at Ranger and were not paid for the 29 hours they worked. This was in April, but it's not our first contact with Ranger. Last year, 3 Ranger workers also contacted WIN because they hadn't been paid. Pressure on the company caused them to pay up last year.

When my co-worker, Alfredo Pena, called up Ranger this time, a supervisor said "we're not in the habit of not paying our workers." The evidence suggests this isn't true. Like a lot of companies, Ranger seems to be using wage theft as one of its business practices.

Even as someone who works daily on wage theft, I was shocked at the level of wage theft a new study found. "Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers" surveyed more than 4,000 low-wage workers in the three largest cities in America - New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Here's just a few things that they found:

  • 1 in 4 workers had been paid less than the legal minimum wage in the past week. The minimum wage violations were serious. 60% of those who had been victimized were underpaid by more than $1 an hour.
  • Of those who had worked overtime (more than 40 hours in a workweek), a shocking 3 out of 4 were not paid legally required overtime wages.
And this is in cities where local and state governments take stronger action against wage theft than in Memphis! 

Wage theft is clearly not just a few bad apples ruining the bunch. It's a widespread problem that's happening at the systemic level. And it's causing the suffering of millions of workers who can't make ends meet despite their hard work. 

If you're ready to tackle the problem, here are a few ideas:
  • sign up for WIN's action alert email list so you can make your voice heard when wage theft happens in the Mid-South. 
  • fight wage theft at the systemic level by becoming a member of WIN. Your membership will be used to advocate for better enforcement of wage laws at the local, state, and national levels. And, now through Dec. 15th, your new membership gift will be matched dollar for dollar by another WIN member!
  • speak up when wage theft happens to you. If you've been a victim of not getting paid overtime, pay below the minimum wage, not being paid for all your hours, or not being paid at all, contact WIN.

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