From 2008 to 2011, only 17% of court-ordered claims for back pay and labor law penalties were collected, according to the report by the National Employment Law Project and the UCLA Labor Center titled "Hollow Victories: The Crisis in Collecting Unpaid Wages for California's Workers."A business "closes" and reopens under another name, and poof, there goes the worker's chance of getting paid.
Just 42%—$165 million out of $390 million—was recovered after being verified by government regulators, even after judges signed orders and employers signed settlement agreements.
Meanwhile, companies representing three-fifths of unpaid-wage judgments legally vanished, the report said.
And then there's the ever-growing temp industry, which has raised the practice of screwing workers to an art form:
The temp system insulates the host companies from workers’ compensation claims, unemployment taxes, union drives and the duty to ensure that their workers are citizens or legal immigrants. In turn, the temps suffer high injury rates, according to federal officials and academic studies, and many of them endure hours of unpaid waiting and face fees that depress their pay below minimum wage.As you can see from that, the temp industry is undermining employment standards for everyone else. Which is to say, unless you're in the top two to three percent, they're coming for you.
The rise of the blue-collar permatemp helps explain one of the most troubling aspects of the phlegmatic recovery. Despite a soaring stock market and steady economic growth, many workers are returning to temporary or part-time jobs. This trend is intensifying America’s decades-long rise in income inequality, in which low- and middle-income workers have seen their real wages stagnate or decline. On average, temps earn 25 percent less than permanent workers.
Keep reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.
A fair day's wage
- House Republicans are pushing a bill that would make it harder for asbestos victims to get compensation.
- Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry doesn't like the minimum wage law his city's voters passed last November. So he's ignoring it.
- Thugs save pug.
- The Washington Post would like to make it easier to fire its workers. And in other media news, the Star-Ledger says it will close if unions don't make concessions.
- Nurses and doctors are fighting to save Long Island College Hospital.
- The People's Tour for America hit Las Vegas this week.
- The supervisor from hell gets a pass from SCOTUS:
The petty tyranny of middle management is practically a modern workplace institution. We've all experienced—or heard stories of—the despised supervisor who makes every workday miserable with verbal jabs and insults, sexual harassment, racial epithets or outright discrimination. And if that describes your workplace, your life may get just a little more nightmarish, since the Supreme Court has made it harder to wage a civil rights challenge against the supervisor from hell.
- Diane Ravitch has been following Louisiana's Recovery School District, which is heavily charter schools and heavily staffed by Teach for America. In New Orleans, RSD schools are performing at the bottom. Meanwhile, state Superintendent of Education John White, a TFA alum, wants to hire more TFA teachers:
White insists that hiring TFA means the “willingness to try something different.” Since Louisiana has hired TFA for nearly a quarter century without seeing the promised “excellence,” White seems to be defending the status quo, not trying “something different.”
- It's becoming more common for teachers and staff at charter schools to unionize—or try to. But the deck is stacked against them, as Jake Blumgart lays out.