Wage theft continues to cost workers hundreds of millions of dollars. If employers can figure out a way to siphon off their workers’ pay, they’ll do it. Like in retail, where Abercrombie & Fitch owes workers $25 million for forcing them to buy Abercrombie clothes for work, purchases that pushed workers’ pay below minimum wage. That $25 million settlement covers 258,000 workers.
Workers at Medicare call centers operated by General Dynamics Information Technology, meanwhile, are just starting their fight to get the money they should have been paid. According to a complaint from the Communications Workers of America, General Dynamics has been keeping workers at lower pay levels than the work they were doing entitled them to under the company’s federal contracts:
Agents in the call center “do jobs that require them to select from hundreds of scripts and procedures, adapt these materials to suit caller needs, and use specialized terminology and other subject-matter knowledge gleaned from their training and experience as front-line workers for the Medicare and Federal Marketplace programs,” the complaint says. The union says that those tasks fit the description of positions that correspond to a wage of $11.41 or $12.80 an hour, but that the company classified most of its workers in a position that pays $9.05 an hour.
Two workers at General Dynamics call centers say they have long worried that the company was not paying them sufficiently for the work they were asked to do. Adrian Powe, 26, who works in the Hattiesburg center, said he had completed three company skills trainings, but that none of them had resulted in a wage above $10 an hour.
“I was baffled at the fact that there was no raise” after the trainings, he said. “I knew something wasn’t right.”
The complaint says the company may owe workers as much as $100 million in back wages.
During the Obama administration, the Labor Department was aggressive in combating wage theft, but now the occupant of the White House is more likely to cheer on employers in finding ways to steal from their workers.
● Local governments give Amazon big tax incentives to locate warehouses in their areas, but a new study says Amazon isn't raising overall employment:
Examining job growth in the two years following the opening of 54 fulfillment centers between 2001 and 2015, a pair of economists from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute found that while warehousing employment increased by about 30%, Amazon's presence generated no net employment gains in the 34 counties where the facilities are located.
● How Whole Foods uses score cards to punish employees.
● More on that Trump labor board member with a big old conflict of interest. Ian MacDougall reports:
In the Jan. 26 letter, Emanuel defended his involvement in the case. Among other things, he claimed he was unaware that Littler had ever been involved in the Browning-Ferris case when he participated in it. “Littler Mendelson is a huge law firm of more than 1,000 lawyers,” Emanuel wrote, “and I was involved in only a small fraction of the firm’s practice.”
During the Senate confirmation process, however, Emanuel acknowledged that he knew about Littler’s involvement in the Browning-Ferris case. In response to a request from Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Emanuel provided “a list of all cases decided by the NLRB and that are currently on appeal in which Littler Mendelson represents a party.” On that list is Browning-Ferris.
● Racism, greed and the school choice movement.
● These foreign workers say they were told to pick blueberries unless they were on their “death bed”:
In addition to intimidation and threatening to send workers home, the lawsuit also alleges that Sarbanand failed to provide workers with sufficient meals, despite deducting $12 a day from their daily wages. Workers often had to buy extra food at their own costs, but were prohibited from eating while they were in the field. In at least one incident, a top manager from Munger pressured workers to pick two boxes of blueberries an hour or risk being fired and sent home. Another manager from Munger allegedly told the workers: “You came here to suffer, not for vacation.”
● Inside the Trump administration's plan to shrink the National Labor Relations Board.
● In a historic first, the Chicago Teachers Union and charter school teachers have joined forces.