Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Let's make the pay hike real for government contract workers

When you fight, you can win

A series of one-day strikes by low-wage workers in Washington, D.C., resulted in a huge victory -- on paper, at least. They got a pay hike -- on paper, at least. 

The workers are all employed by businesses that have contracts with the federal government. President Obama made good on his promise to use his executive powers to help workers. Obama by boosted the pay of low-wage contractors, expanded overtime protections, and ensured equal pay.

The question is, will the contractors comply with the new rules? 

Our friends at Good Jobs Nation tell us maybe not. 
In the past few months, low-wage federal contract workers at Union Station and Ronald Reagan Building filed formal wage theft complaints with the US Labor Department to reclaim $4 million in back pay and damages because current minimum wage and overtime laws are routinely flouted on federal property.

That's why “the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus sent a letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez urging the Labor Department to step up its enforcement actions against wage theft,” reported The Washington Post... 
The New York Times editorial board also urged the US Labor Department to aggressively use its enforcement powers to police federal contractors, noting that “swift investigations and, if warranted, serious consequences, including back pay, damages and penalties, would ensure justice and future compliance.” 
Wage theft is rampant among companies that receive tax dollars. A National Employment Law Project survey showed nearly 40 percent of federal contract workers reported wage theft. A U.S. Senate report found 32 percent of the largest fines for labor law violations were assessed against federal contractors.