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It's breathtaking how systematically the most vulnerable workers in the country are being screwed. In California, workers who get judgments against employers who deny them the breaks they're legally entitled to take, don't pay overtime, or otherwise steal the wages they've earned aren't all that likely to get their money:
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."

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.

A business "closes" and reopens under another name, and poof, there goes the worker's chance of getting paid.

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.

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.

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.

Keep reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.

A fair day's wage

Education

  • 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.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 10:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The magic of limited liability: (10+ / 0-)
    A business "closes" and reopens under another name, and poof, there goes the worker's chance of getting paid.

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:07:50 AM PDT

    •  If corporations are really people (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psnyder, Laconic Lib, RUNDOWN

      that would qualify as resurrection.  It's yet another reason why SCOTUS made an enormous and serious mistake with Citizens United.

      Alllowing corporations to disappear when they get court judgements or fines only to rise zombie like under another name with a fresh start isn't allowed for actual, real people either.  It shouldn't be allowed for business that do so to avoid personal responsibility or to liquidate union contracts or steal workers pensions either.

      Personalizzing a case, i.e. making it against the business AND it's leadership/owners would be a way to ensure that judgements get paid and justice was done.  

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:44:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Another case of the self-identified "God Party" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RUNDOWN, Puddytat

        putting the creations of man (corporations) above the creations of God (human beings).

        Really, their blithe hypocrisy knows no limits nor shame.

        The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

        by psnyder on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:49:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In vitro fertilization (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Puddytat, psnyder

          is also creation by man, by medical science, but I never hear people who bear children that way thank science and researchers for making parenthood assessable for them.

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:04:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Assisting in a natural biological process (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Puddytat

            has absolutely nothing to do with abstract legal  constructs created for the sole purpose of facilitating greed and unaccountability..

            The "process" - is not the child.

            Just like medicine to save lives is not "the same as" the Pharma company who seeks only to profit from them.

            “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

            by RUNDOWN on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:29:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, of course not (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              psnyder

              No offense intended.

              I thought the theme was the GOP's reliance on religious metaphors and celebration of devine destiny or intervention whenever things go the way they want them to.

              People thank God for their healthy babies, but I've never heard anyone thank God for an inability to conceive. E.g. I've never heard anyone thank God for their cancer.

              "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

              by LilithGardener on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 02:49:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  And we could change this in ONE day (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psnyder

      All we have to do is to make it illegal for a company to have temps to comprise more than 10% of its non-seasonal work force.

      The test would be whether the company hired temp worker instead of a regular employee just to avoid its responsibilities.

      Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

      by Einsteinia on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:52:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Would you have to prove (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Einsteinia

        corporate intent?

        And you can be sure that if there were a 10% threshold, companies would hover right around 9.99999999%. I mean, I think arbitrary numbers like that are inherently problematic and subject to gaming by interested parties. Still, it might be one way to reduce the incidence of such abuse.

        The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

        by psnyder on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:21:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hmmm, well while you cannot (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          psnyder

          prove intent, you can easily prove what is a reality by examining the tax returns.  For example, how can a retailer write off a show room and inventory, etc., with employee expenditures that show a work force composed of 20% permanent employees and 80% temps?  Hindsight is 20/20, which is what happens on tax returns.

          Then as for lying and cheating, yes they would push up to the threshhold, but 10% is better than 90%

          Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

          by Einsteinia on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:36:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  We need to start black listing the corporate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psnyder

      officers of those companies - all of them, and then asterisk those who did meet the payment schedule they agreed to when they negotiated with the court.

      Negotiated in bad faith.

      That needs to become a phrase we learn how to apply and use.

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 12:03:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Washington Post has been anti union (7+ / 0-)

    ever since I can remember.  I teach in the DC suburbs and whenever we pass a new contract, they trash the local teachers' association in an editorial--and they do refer to us as union thugs.

    “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

    by musiclady on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:08:08 AM PDT

  •  I use to underwrite temp agencies (4+ / 0-)

    worker compensation policies. In California they even made a special unit just for them and PEOs. I can say this, trying to find out what type of work employees were actually doing was not easy at all.

    It was bad. I don't know what it is like now but ten years ago it was so difficult trying to get information about numbers of employees and the type of work they did. And who all the employers were with the PEO since some were involved in hazardous work and the PEOs didn't want us to know that.

  •  Not just blue collar (6+ / 0-)

    "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."
      The amount of white collar jobs that are "permatemp" has been growing as well.  When I was last actively looking for full-time jobs, most recruiters only contacted me about temp or other "contract" jobs.  And that was for higher up manager positions requiring advanced degrees or similar extensive experience.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:27:15 AM PDT

  •  not to mention the "immigration reform" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryabein, Laconic Lib, Larry Parker

    that promises to add hundreds of thousands more people to compete with unemployed american engineers.

  •  I disagree, not Art but Science. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Desert Scientist, LilithGardener

    The Science of the short term profit without regard to long term gain. Henry Ford would be appalled.

    "Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left. We simply can't afford to double-down on trickle-down." Bill Clinton

    by irate on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:36:30 AM PDT

  •  The temp "industry" (4+ / 0-)

    is yet another example of parasitic middlemen skimming cash from vulnerable citizens, while adding no value at all, just like health insurers or megabanks.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 11:43:18 AM PDT

  •  It is the way extreme Capitalism works. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laconic Lib, maryabein

    The cheaper the labor, the more profit.  Since our system worships profit, the beast system would be a slave state, with a tiny minority of super rich.  We are getting awfully close to that now!

    "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite." - John Kenneth Galbraith
  •  But then..... (0+ / 0-)
    “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” --Mark Twain
  •  On collecting money (0+ / 0-)
    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."

    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.

    There isn't a scandal here, just grim reality. You can get all the judgments you want, but they are only as good as your debtor's assets--and finding the debtor and getting to his dough is a labor-intensive, low-reward legal enterprise that is only sustainable in volume, because the per-case profit after all the collection work is abysmal, even when the debtor is perfectly honest.

    I myself have had the great pleasure of seizing a debtor employer's bank account, and turning the proceeds over to his former employee.  The employee was quite shocked, having in the meantime graduated from college, married, raised two children, and grown gray and paunchy.  The accumulated interest amounted to more than the original debt, and the lawyer who originally got the judgment was long dead.  That is the usual run of things, and for this reason, by law, the life of a judgment for money is usually 20 years.  Of course you can renew it.

  •  Surely it is not beyond (0+ / 0-)

    the wit of man to remove the limited liability from company directors who dissolve on company and form another depriving workers of claims.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 01:07:32 PM PDT

  •  Their plan is crystal-clear... (0+ / 0-)

    The sooner we can reduce working conditions in the US to third-world levels, the sooner we can bring jobs back to the US.

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