Skip to main content

View Diary: It's Not Wage Stagnation, It's Wage Robbery (151 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  I don't disagree (9+ / 0-)

    but....

    I think that we have to be very careful to preserve the concept of wage theft for cases where people are actually just not paid at all.  Because, I believe that this should be a criminal matter, rather than a civil one.

    Twice in the last year, I've worked for almost a month, while being promised that I would be paid.  Yet, no money came in.  In the case last year, I was working as an adjunct for a university, and most recently I was working directly for a federal government agency. I still hope that I'm going to get paid in the latter case, but in the case of the university I haven't been paid almost a year later.

    After I figured out that the university I worked for just wasn't going to pay me, I  contacted the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown for help.  They did nothing.  I simply wanted help getting a complaint in to the Department of Labor.  They had no interest.  I think that Sen. Brown is a decent guy, but I'm sorry his staff suck.

    So I eventually figured out the convoluted process of filing a complaint with DOL's wage and hour division.  They reminded me that the could only recover minimum wage, which ironically was higher than the rate that the university wanted to pay me at, when they said they would pay.   So I mailed in the complaint.  That was last August.  I haven't heard a damn word back.

    Just not getting paid.  That's wage theft, and that happens a lot.  It's not just Mexican day laborers getting caught up in this, it's people you'd presume are a lot less vulnerable to exploitation. We shouldn't dilute the reality of wage theft by conflating it with the trend for wage increases to fall short of increases in productivity.

    That, that is an orchestrated program of income redistribution put in place by powerful private interests who have captured the State, and made it their bitch.   But.... it's not wage theft.

    http://www.economicpopulist.org

    by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:03:56 AM PST

    •  distinction without a difference IMHO (3+ / 0-)

      They are the same, though done in different ways and using different strategies. In both cases, they deny people their rightful wages.

      Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

      Visit Working Life.

      by Tasini on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 11:17:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Having lived through both (4+ / 0-)

        I can assure you there's a hell of a difference between getting paid shit, and not getting paid shit.

        That you don't, tells me that you probably haven't lived through this.

        Wage theft should be a crime, but when you try to expand the definition like you are here you make sure that will never happen.  And, I'm sorry, but I think that making a dubious rhetorical point shouldn't be placed ahead of actually helping people.

        http://www.economicpopulist.org

        by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 12:19:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But you're buying into their thought pattern: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Darth Stateworker, ozsea1

          "You think you have it bad, someone else has it worse, so be grateful for the dregs you get."  Workers in other countries get paid less than our minimum wage is, so we should just be grateful to get that.  Some countries have no worker safety laws, so we should be happy to work in almost safe conditions.

          No, there's really no difference, other than degree, between when someone is underpaid and when they're not paid.  It's just easier for the powers that be to justify the former than the latter.  But both belong in the exact same ethical hell.

          •  people who are underpaid at least know the small (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ManfromMiddletown, VClib

            amount of money will show up in their direct deposit. The ones who thought they would get paid what they were told and had budget plans based on a contract are the ones who are immediately unexpectedly screwed.

            We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

            by nuclear winter solstice on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:20:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I realize that, but it's still that doesn't make (0+ / 0-)

              one okay and the other not.  It still makes both of them wrong; one of the wrongs is just even harder to deal with.  I'm not saying your situation isn't a bit harder; I'm saying that focusing on that fact and thus kind of dismissing the wrong of the other is simply playing into their hands.  Everyone has to stick together and not play into the "who has it the hardest" game they want us to play in order to divide us.

          •  Broken agreements. (0+ / 0-)
            No, there's really no difference, other than degree, between when someone is underpaid and when they're not paid.
            The point that I am making is that there is a difference between a situation in which the lack of bargaining power (because of the absence of unions) leads to workers being paid less than they are worth, and when employers make an agreement to pay workers an agreed upon rate, and then fail to uphold their end of the bargain. The latter should be a crime for which employers serve hard prison time, because it is real theft.

            The former is bullshit, but is a civil matter, a tort, not a crime.

            I believe that we can get laws against wage theft on the books.  But... only if the definition is narrowly crafted can we get this.

            http://www.economicpopulist.org

            by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:27:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Re (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VClib

        But in only one of them are they denied their legal wages.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 02:32:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hmmm... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ozsea1

          so even you are agreeing that this should be a crime?

          http://www.economicpopulist.org

          by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:34:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Violation of the law is a crime (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nextstep

            Denying people wages they agreed to work for after the fact is a crime.

            Asking people to punch out and work after the fact is a crime.

            Asking people to do non-tipped work on a tipped salary is a crime.

            "Wage theft" as commonly understood is a crime.

            Paying people minimum wage when they'd rather make more is not a crime.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:34:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  File a claim in small claims court against (3+ / 0-)

      the offending employer. Often it takes a judgment against them to finally make them pay up. They will also be responsible for your filing fees and court costs. Usually these cases are open and shut enough that you will not need an attorney and the judge will find in your favor. A lot of the time you will get a default judgment because they won't bother sending anyone to court.

      I had someone I know recover unpaid wages this way when wage and hour division was not aggressive in pursuing the case.

      I do agree with you that wage theft should be categorized as criminal.  It should be a felony.

      •  worked for us the couple times we had to do it in (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NoMoreLies

        a dozen years.

        We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

        by nuclear winter solstice on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:21:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I live in a different state now. (0+ / 0-)

        The cost of initiating the case would far exceed what I could ever hope to reclaim through court action.

        That I think is a location for collective action.

        As an academic employee at another university, when the point came up that we had limited right to form a union, I made the point that if they don't negotiate, then we should organize to litigate until they scream for a master agreement, aka a contract.  

        The problem is that there's not been much effort to organize along these lines.

        http://www.economicpopulist.org

        by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 03:33:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

  • Recommended (173)
  • Baltimore (88)
  • Community (84)
  • Bernie Sanders (66)
  • Freddie Gray (60)
  • Civil Rights (58)
  • Elections (41)
  • Culture (38)
  • Hillary Clinton (36)
  • Media (36)
  • Racism (33)
  • Law (32)
  • 2016 (31)
  • Labor (27)
  • Education (26)
  • Environment (25)
  • Republicans (23)
  • Politics (23)
  • Barack Obama (22)
  • Economy (21)
  • Click here for the mobile view of the site