Wage Theft Update

Salon earlier this week explained some of the ways wage theft affects so many workers. Some of those most affected include:

Undocumented immigrants

Many undocumented immigrant day labors survive by standing on street corners and selling their labor to drive-by construction and landscaping contractors. Unfortunately, far too many contractors refuse to pay after the work is done… If they report the theft, they run the risk of being reported to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Instead, most just go back to their corners hoping to find more scrupulous contractors.

Fast food workers

Next come the fast-food workers who work overtime, but rarely see the time-and-a-half to which they are entitled by law. Franchise managers at McDonald, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Wendy’s and the like steal those hours by fiddling with the logs.

Factory workers

Move up the food chain a bit and you’ll find the Amazon worker who must line up for 25 minutes to pass through “egress security”—screeners to stop pilfering. Amazon says this is not “integral and indispensible” to the job, and therefore, it is lawful not to pay for the time. The Supreme Court will soon decide whether efforts to halt merchandise theft will become legalized wage theft.

The Economics Policy Institute reminds us that workers are deprived of approximately $50 billion in wages each year. Compare that to a total of $13.6 billion in stolen goods/cars/etc. Fifty billion could pay for over 1.2 million jobs that pay $20 an hour.

The city of Seattle, after their historic wage increase, is working to institute protections against rising wage theft. The mayor has proposed an Office of Labor Standards that would employ minimum-wage investigators to protect Seattle workers from the wage theft crisis. The Seattle P-I has the story. 


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