Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fight wage theft

Some men will rob you with a six-gun, and some will rob you by paying you below the minimum wage.
Some will rob you by refusing to pay overtime.
Some will rob you by forcing you to work off the clock.
Some will rob you by misclassifying you as an independent contractor.
Some will rob you by paying you with a check that bounces.
Some will rob you by not paying you at all.

It happens a lot in this country, and it doesn't just happen to recent immigrants in marginal businesses. Companies that have settled lawsuits or fines for stealing workers' wages include Huntington Bank, Verizon, T Mobile, CVS Pharmacy, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Wackenhut, Intercontinental Hotels,'s a long list.

The statistics are horrifying, but not so much as the stories of exploited workers. A poultry plant in Iowa, for example, employed men with disabilities, putting them up in an old schoolhouse and paying them $65 a month. Sometimes their wages amounted to 44 cents an hour.

If you've been caught up in the epidemic of wage theft -- or if you have a sense of decency -- you might want to do something about it.

Today's a good day to start. Interfaith Worker Justice is calling Nov. 18 a National Day of Action. IWJ is holding press conferences, rallies, prayer vigils and marches throughout the country. And the Teamsters are calling on their members and allies to contact members of Congress and ask them to support the Wage Theft Prevention Act, the Fair Playing Field Act, and the Wage Theft Prevention and Community Partnership Act.

You can sign also sign a petition here.