Corey Robin has an excellent NYTimes op-ed on “The Republican War on Workers’ Rights“. Just one highlight:
… Wage theft refers to the practice among employers of taking money from their employees by illegally paying them less than the minimum wage or not paying them overtime. According to one multicity study, in a single week, nearly two-thirds of low-wage workers had, on average, 15 percent of their pay stolen by their employers.
One of the causes of this epidemic of wage theft — which, according to Mr. Lafer’s E.P.I. report, involves sums “far greater than the combined total stolen in all the bank robberies, gas station robberies, and convenience store robberies in the country” — is lax enforcement of the country’s wage and hour laws. In 1941, there was one federal inspector for every 11,000 workers. As of 2008, there was one for every 141,000 workers. “The average employer has just a 0.001 percent chance of being investigated in a given year,” Mr. Lafer estimates. Because there is so little risk of getting caught, one-third of all employers who have been found guilty of violating wage and hour laws continue to do it.
In 2010, liberal legislators in Miami-Dade County decided to take matters into their own hands. They passed an anti-wage-theft ordinance, resulting in more than 600 prosecutions and $1.7 million recovered in stolen pay in the first year alone. Miami-Dade’s success inspired Broward and Palm Beach Counties to propose similar measures.
In response, Republican legislators in Tallahassee tried to pass a bill that would prohibit any “county, municipality, or political subdivision of the state” from enacting laws, rules, ordinances or regulations “for the purpose of addressing wage theft.” They failed, so they tried again. This time, the bill passed the Florida House, but failed in the Senate.
Where conservatives often style themselves as the champions of local control — Ronald Reagan called for a government with “as much law and decision-making authority as possible kept at the local level” — the Florida example suggests that they have no compunction about sacrificing that principle when it threatens business interests….
My emphases. Some will rob you with a six-gun, And some with a fountain pen…
one of my neighbors has been crucial in the effort to derail the anti-wage theft bill in the House. He assures me it won’t pass the Senate.
The miracle of Rising Productivity!
In all its glory (and there are parts they’ve managed to better hide).
The right never really got over the end of feudalism.
The only principle underlying Republican governance is that there are no principles that can’t be sacrificed in order to achieve a desired outcome.
They hate the government telling them they can’t oppress people. The more local, the easier it is to get a majority to condone oppression. That is the full and entire extent of their devotion to local control.
Mr Stagger Lee
Future political science historians will marvel at how the Republican’s total assholery did not inspire revolts across statehouses across the country.
Morzer (this is your final trigger warning, do not pass go if you have issues with depictions of Morzers engaging in Morzer-related activity)
I really think Vlad the Impaler could be a good role model for progressives here.
Notice that wage theft is also tax theft — yet another way to starve the beast and complain about those freeloading 47 percenters.
(Do I really have to type /snark?)
The most potent practical reason reinforcing the GOP’s ideological preference for “local control” is that it’s usually cheaper and easier for wealthy business interests to reliably control local governments. In general, it gets progressively harder and more expensive to control state governments and more so still for them to effectively control the federal government, but there’s enough variability from issue to issue, from state to state, locality to locality, that the general rule isn’t always applicable. So in the end, the strong practical interest that trumps ideology for the GOP’s business wing is: which branch of government is the easiest to exert control over on the particular matter at hand? If it’s local government, then they’ll try to tie state government’s hands. If it’s state government, they’ll try to tie local government’s hands. If it’s federal government, they’ll try to tie the hands of both state and local government.
I don’t believe in the death penalty, and yet this makes me want to sharpen the guillotine.
IMO, this is a great issue for liberals. Everyone understands it immediately. I’m also glad they didn’t water it down or wonk it up. Wage theft. That’s really all you have to say.
I hope they make not paying people for the work that they do a national conservative cause. Hopefully it’ll go national. I want national Republicans to give speeches on why they believe an employer can steal your wages. It’s possible that could happen with the current crop of Republicans, I think.
Higgs Boson's Mate
This leaves me in a quandary; who is more deserving of being hanged from a lamp post, the wage thieves or the legislators who tried to prevent anti-wage theft laws from being enacted?
I do know one thing for certain; anyone who votes for those legislators when they come up for election is too stupid to live.
@Higgs Boson’s Mate:
The answer is yes.
I totally agree. I can’t imagine how Fox is going to spin employers not paying people as a good thing, so I’ll be curious to see how they try.
ETA: I’m sure they’ll try some arglebargle about employees faking their time cards, but that’s a firing (and possibly) criminal offense in itself, so it may be hard for them to fold it in.
What they really believe in is keeping control at whatever level of government will do things the way they want, with “states rights” and “local control” as fig leaves. They never have any problem pushing for federal laws to override states and localities that do things they don’t like.
Of course, that’s true of pretty much every Republican “principle.”
If I might make a minor editing suggestion to Corey Robin, I’m pretty sure that last clause would read more accurately if it were phrased as (editing rec. emphasized):
@Higgs Boson’s Mate:
You assume that the two groups are distinct, when in fact they are one and the same.
Shouldn’t that be pro-wage theft. I mean, the bill helps employers steal wages, not prevent it.
You could probably get a lot more support for opposing it, if it were appropriately described as pro-wage theft.
@Higgs Boson’s Mate:
The wage thieves get the lamp post, politicians should have their heads on the end of pikes.
See, there’s another profound difference between Democrats and Republicans. Next time someone says they’re both the same, remind them that Democrats want to legalize pot, while Republicans want to legalize wage theft.
@Higgs Boson’s Mate:
I know there are only so many hours in a day. But as long as we set aside enough time, I’m sure we can hang them all. Not in a day, of course, but maybe over a few weeks?
Higgs Boson's Mate
So there’s no difference between throwing a litter of businessmen or throwing a litter of Republicans. Makes sense to me.
No, you see, it’s not theft, it’s civil disobedience. Freedom of contract is a constitutional right as established by Lochner v. New York and these business owners are standing up against the tyranny of eight decades of government policies and Supreme Court decisions to the contrary…
The Republic of Stupidity
There… better, no?
Higgs Boson's Mate
He, lighten up. Those business owners are only stealing speech, aren’t they?
Denial. If it’s not a thing, then by definition it can’t be a bad thing.
The methodology is flawed, the researchers are biased, etc., etc. You’ve seen this before. We all have.
And since Lochner was not explicitly overruled….
@Mnemosyne: Wage Fraud!
@Higgs Boson’s Mate: And yet: bebehs. Jeebus. Can’t let the hippies get ahead on anything or let them browns & blahs get too far ahead. Therefore dogwhistles & vote Republican.
Higgs Boson's Mate
The wage theft will be blamed on a few bad apples. You know; foremen, secretaries, accountants. Not one of the inherently benign job creators will feel any heat.
@Yatsuno: Don’t forget teh Ghey.
Even the excuses are lame. One of them is that employers don’t understand the “complex rules” so can’t be blamed. Except one of the biggest areas of wage theft is employers forcing people to work before and after their shift as a condition of remaining employed. Before they clock in and after they clock out. Really? The employer doesn’t understand the complex rule that dictates that one can’t force people to work completely without pay?
The best way to explain it is to turn it around. If an employee steals from an employer he’s leaving in handcuffs. Why wouldn’t it work the other way? We don’t want to encourage lawlessness and theft in the workplace, do we? The rules have to apply both ways, or why would anyone follow them?
I honestly feel that conservatives encourage disregard for any rules with this stuff, and it will come back around and bite them in the ass with employees. People don’t buy into systems that are rigged against them. It’s important most people buy in or we’ll have to station a cop next to each person, employer AND employee. You’d think they’d worry about a complete breakdown of the whole implied contract between employer and employee.
Or when it concerns something they don’t like, like marijuana or gun control. But then logical consistency is not generally considered a distinguishing characteristic of what for lack of a better term is referred to as wingnut thinking.
At this point, I’d expect the FL leggy to pass laws outlawing the banning of bans on outlaws and bills allowing for mandatory open carry in day care centers and hospital ERs. That state done got itself fucked up.
Even more directly on point, consider what can happen when an employer discovers irrefutable evidence that an employee has been falsifying work-time records in order to collect a substantial amount of additional pay beyond what they were legitimately entitled to (most especially if the records were falsified in order to collect additional overtime).
Because….because if those employees don’t agree and go along with it, it shows that they are insufficiently dedicated and loyal to their employers, and hence unworthy of promotion, pay raises(!) or indeed employment at all. Hey, it sounds as logical as a lot of the other offal spouted by Fox commentators.
Ranks right up there with the time I and other employees were informed by the CEO of the company for which we worked that we should consider free parking (this in a suburban office complex) as a benefit of employment with the company; this after inquiry as to why the company didn’t have a 401k plan. Gave rise to competing thoughts: upon what fucking planet does this asshole reside, and how stupid does he think we are?
I knew they would hate the phrase “wage theft” and they do :)
“Theft implies intent and this isn’t intentional.” Take 2 dollars out of the cash register at the beginning of your shift at Subway and then 2 dollars at the end. Do that for a year, get caught, and see how far the “mistake” defense gets you.
Ask him why he wants to protect thieves. I mean, I know why (they give him money), but ask him anyway.
Higgs Boson's Mate
If the Democratic party doesn’t make hay with this they’ll be pretty much acting as they usually do.
Fox does this, but only with hourly employees. If they’re talking about a salary, it’s “152,000 dollars a year”. There’s no mention of any value of benefits. If they’re talking about a unionized hourly wage earner, they add benefits. “It’s like… 32 dollars an hour when you add it all up!”
Don’t forget the other way they steal from employees, like paying them on debit cards where the debit card company charges a fee every time the card is used. Okay, so maybe it’s not the Giant Corporate Employer that’s stealing but instead its the Giant Bankcard Corporation, but don’t think the Giant Corporate Employer doesn’t get some kind of kickback or discount on payroll management for letting the Giant Bankcard Corp steal from their employees.
Let’s see how this flies in MBA Logic. Rational actors know one can’t steal from those that have nothing but only from those that have. Therefore in a perfect freemarket system there must inevitably be no theft from poor laborers. So, either this so-called theft doesn’t exist or is a byproduct of the lie-beral distorting function of having bounds on wages at all. In either case, they needed better negociating skills.
I’m sure Frank Luntz is working overtime to come up with a “better” phrase, because wage theft is a hard one to get around.
Higgs Boson's Mate
The heroic business owners are saving their employees from having to pay more taxes to the evil gubmint. They’re doing those workers a favor for which the workers should be grateful.
@danielx: I often think it’s awesome that my employer gives me a badge that unlocks the door so I can get into the office. No fumbling for a key for me!!!
I don’t particularly care for the term “theft.” It sounds like a minor white collar kind of crime. Maybe Grand Theft Wage or Wage Robbery or Wage larceny?
@The Republic of Stupidity:
That may apply to some on the right, but I think far more of them are content to have a serf class.
Well, it would be inefficient to spend time fumbling with a key – better for you to get in quicker so you can start wearing out grindstones with your nose. Also too, they can keep track of your comings and goings more easily.
pseudonymous in nc
In MBA Logic, wages are theft, if the MBAs are the ones paying them. Job creators gave these people jobs: why should they be forced to give them wages as well?
“Organized crime” seems like one good way to describe it. I wonder if Mafia bosses ever go “fuck it, why can’t we just close down and turn into respectable businessmen? Isn’t it WAY easier and safer and more profitable to cheat people out of their money like that than with drugs or gambling?”
Or maybe they’re just afraid they wouldn’t be ruthless enough to make it in the world of “legitimate” capitalism.
I hope so, though the cynic in me thinks that 30+ years of shock doctrine economics wearing down so many Americans, plus a healthy dose of a serf mentality that ascribes all that is good to our
lordsjob creators will make mobilizing voters around something as obviously bad as wage theft harder to do than one would like.
Well, heck if it was unintentional, I am sure the bosses are very happy to pay the back wages once the DA helps them get their books figured out right. I hear about that gratitude in this kind of case all the time in the news.
sniffy-shiff… I feel all warm and cuddly now, about all these solid citizens working together for a just world.
Part of the point of overtime was to give them an incentive to hire. If they have to pay time and half to all their employees for overtime, eventually they’ll hire additional employees, when it stops making sense to pay time and a half to all their employees and is cheaper to just hire an additional worker. It was smart, because it works for employers too. They can pay time and a half for overtime for short periods and keep some flexibility rather than taking on a whole new worker if they have a cyclical business or industry. Everyone’s happy!
Why do conservatives keep gumming up the wheels ‘o commerce? We figured all this out already :)
@Kay: Good points, as always, Kay. Unfortunately, the GOP knows all too well that they can get away with this shit because the people most impacted by it — low wage, low information, minority, often immigrants — are also the least likely to vote, so there’s no downside. How do you mobilize the people affected by this and their allies?
I kinda like “wage theft.” It makes them sound like they’re stealing candy from babies or some other equally pathetic form of robbery against someone helpless.
Wage Crime might work. Or perhaps Pay Theft.
So would Slavery (as in wage slaves), but that, of course, comes laden with certain baggage from which it could not be divorced.
@Mnemosyne: They’ve union busted for years under the rubric “right to work.” I think they’re going to come up with some variation on this, as in “hey, a lot of workers out there are willing to do what it takes to make sure their employer is successful. They don’t need some stupid ‘time card’ or a ‘shift schedule’ or ‘overtime rules’ to tell them how to do their job. If they want to come in early to help make sure the floors are extra clean, or stay late to do inventory, why should ‘big government’ get in the way of that kind of gumption?’
what this needs is the employer figuring out how to pay with grocery store gift cards. if the grocery store can give the employer a 10% discount…
(buying face value grocery gift cards is a fund raiser for my 4 year old’s pre school)
then maybe the employer can open their own store and pay in store credit. Why I bet they could move some 16 tons of food and clothing a month if they worked at it.
and if the employees don’t earn enough for food they can make loans.
and when the employees revolt they can call the national guard.
@jonas: Wage theft is already out there as the term. Hooray for our side; we defined the issue this time.
@NotMax: I think ‘stealing employees money’ is a good phrase. Luntz might call it ‘flex-pay’ and tie into something like ‘flex-time’ to make it seem nice. For example, Generous flex-pay policies will allow your employer to give you more just-in-time flex-time policies to increase flexibility and productivity, which lifts all boats.
That is, the boss can put you on night shift at 10 am earlier in the day, and then stiff you any overtime due, and maybe decide later that you clocked our early if no one was around to call him on it. That doesn’t sound nice at all, though, so can;’t be the same thing.
every few years in California some not drooling knuckledragging hairy hyde of a republican tries to modify overtime rules under the guise of employee flexibility. for the last couple decades it’s been a total failure. But with the constant banging on education, I worry they’ll someday hit critical mass of people who just don’t understand. They want to play games to avoid the basic more than 8 hours a day is overtime…
@pseudonymous in nc: Giving them a place to shelter from the weather all day, and stuff to do, keeping them out of crime and the sin of idleness! Shades of Sheldon and the beneficence thereof!
And they are so waiting to compare the laziness of the entitled wage moochers, compared to the virtuous industry of the salaried bankers et al who don’t expect extra for the 79th hour of the week.
I like wage theft. It’s punchy. George Carlin would have had a field day with it.
Actually, it tends to be more than 40 hours a week = overtime. Four 10 hour days is legally acceptable.
OT: I may have an opportunity to go to dinner at the exclusive CCI (Cricket Club of India). As a cricket fan I am psyched!
ETA: Very Exclusive, members only club, Linkie:
@Mnemosyne: I think the term is just fine as well. They are stealing people’s wages. It is simple, direct and accurate. Let’s not try to get cute.
Surely the peasants are nostalgic for the glory days of company towns.
I sit, in a chair mildly miffed at my memory. but yes the targets have been the 40 hour week and the 8 hour day – both.
and some of our safety unions by adopting four ten hour days or even three twelve hour days a week have in many respects opened the door
but firefighters and cops get overtime when they work it.
@schrodinger’s cat: Mr. Trowel has never met you but he’s emerald with jealousy
okay, I was awful, I apologize.
I see my Ron Paul friends are claiming that since Switzerland voted down the world’s highest minimum wage, and they’re still prosperous, that means… um… minimum wage bad!
Of course, they leave out the fact that Switzerland is a SOCIALIST country with stuff like universal health care. I mean, when you have that safety net firmly in place, then maybe we can have a discussion about the minimum wage. But these Ron Paul folk seem to be forgetting that step. Or rather, ignoring it.
You’re both right — California still has the “over 8 hours per day = overtime” rule. A four-day, 10-hour week has to be specifically agreed to by the employee, and it’s usually only for specific jobs (law enforcement, nurses, etc.)
so hatred. not so much?
@gian: I live in CA, so hear about the GOP efforts to gut worker protections every year or two. The GOP kicks off the discussion with the tactic of complete obfuscation so that it takes awhile for people to realize they are proposing taking away overtime, wrecking the 8 hour day and five day work week. Total cynicism by the CA GOP, but that is expected.
so, um, can we do this?
sorry, about the dickishness.
seriously, sorry, john.
” I see my Ron Paul friends are claiming that since Switzerland voted down the world’s highest minimum wage, and they’re still prosperous, that means… um… minimum wage bad! ”
Besides social insurance, less than 5 percent of the population that corresponds to poor, as in U.S. level of poor, And hard to compare, because, well, because of things like universal health insurance in Switzerland.
Wait until they discover that Scandinavian countries have the most, and sometimes, more U.S. style regulations for hiring and firing than rest of W Europe, and sometimes less job security protection than in the U.S. itself. The difference is more generous social insurance, subsidized working retraining and continuing education, family friendly assistance policies that encourage more household production without impoverishing the recipients. But, maybe if they get desperate, they will start flaking the relatively lax job security protections in Denmark and Sweden.
Actually, I would like policies that encourage more flexible work hours, but the problem is any time you deal with the GOP, it turns into a bait-and-switch con to allow bosses to work people at will with no notice. So you just have to say “NO” in the current political environment.
john, you can’t hate me. it’s not allowed. you just can’t, however justified.
Higgs Boson's Mate
They’re just like clockwork and the pitch is always that gutting worker protection will make California more business friendly so that we’ll oodles of lovely jobs. My ass. The main reason that companies don’t move here, or that they leave for another state, is the lack of affordable housing. Whether you’re buying or renting this state is damned expensive and companies with lots of low-to-medium wage jobs can’t or won’t pay their people enough to live in this here.
If they wanted to bring in oodles of lovely jobs they should figure out ways to get a shit ton more affordable housing built. Of course, then we’d need more water and that’s something that neither party wants to address forthrightly.
My guess is that the GOP/Fox party line will be that this is just another case of far-left liberals trying to add new regulations on business and increase government power over the private sector. The Democrats just want to find a new way to audit you and stick their nose into your business!
oh, just get upstairs already people.
@Higgs Boson’s Mate: So sad that a commie place like SF Bay Area and Sacto are doing well economic growthwise, despite all the job killing socialism. Enough economic activity to support effing outrageous housing costs. Enough to drag California up to above average growth so we don’t humiliate WA and OR. The lesser people natives around here are raising hell about housing problem, and maybe the pols will notice if they get scared enough. Anyway, it’s a problem a lot of places would like to have these days.
Also despite the fact that the SF Bay area stinks big time in terms of very high and very rapidly growing income inequality, it , and Northern CA as a whole, have one of the highest rates of economic mobility in the country, along with commie MA. That isn’t saying much in the U.S., but it is better than nothing.
Edit: Anyway, if a couple of hundred or a thousand lower wage warehousing or wholesale trade jobs get shipped to Reno, they will make fun of us. And there is good and bad to that. But people here are worried about too many new additional people coming in (edit, for housing, getting on the damn BART and bus, driving on a damn road, getting down the sidewalk in the downtown, parking, etc.)
and again, bitches, get upstairs.
Higgs Boson's Mate
I’ve lived in SF a couple of times, Berkeley when I was in college, Concord, and Vallejo at other times. SF is pretty well defined by geography and there hasn’t been anywhere to build there since forever. I’ve seen mention of folks commuting from Petaluma and other used-to-be farm towns to SF because even a well paid job in that town isn’t enough to enable you to live there. My brother graduated from SF State then he started at Wells Fargo and worked his way up to a VP slot. He rented in some fairly shabby places and they were still expensive by my lights. Smart guy: he was saving his money. He quit WF when he was in his late forties, bought a big old house in the middle of Vermont, and he’s been comfortably retired ever since.
Easy. The centerpiece of it will be an argument that minimum-wage laws are “job-killing” and unjust in the first place, and we’ll see a wave of beleaguered small-business owners threatening more in sorrow than in anger to lay off most of their staff if they actually have to pay them, just as with Obamacare.
Another Holocene Human
Just so everyone knows, this shit is being pushed by the Darden Restaurant group through the Florida Retail Federation and Florida Restaurant (& Hotel) Association, which is part of the National Restaurant Association.
Olive Garden, When You’re Here, You’re Party To Exploiting Labor
Another Holocene Human
Is it ever! Why don’t I tell you about the transcription service that pays its stringers piecework that amounts to less than minimum wage and then issues a Schedule K at the end of the year, rather than a 1099. Just when you thought you’d heard it all….
Another Holocene Human
@Violet: McDonald’s franchises do this.
The Fla lege could ban the practice under state law but instead they facilitated by erasing the right to be paid your wages in full by cash or check.
What the fuckity fuck kind of lameass lying excuse do they come up with for protecting piece-of-shit thieves?
(Note: I love “wage theft.” I just think that in private it ought to be bracketed with more obscenities.)
It’s Florida. Can’t you Stand Your Ground against wage thieves?
@Higgs Boson’s Mate:
you wouldn’t believe how many people I know who believe exactly this and accept cash straight time, under the table rather than get paid time and 1/2 for overtime on payroll. Anytime I hear some pol whinging about how small businesses will stop hiring if they have to pay a fair wage, I know this is what they are really worried about; all the matching taxes they have been cheating on; unemployment, workers comp; social security, etc.
ACA tax reporting is going to mean someone is looking a lot more closely at what employees are actually taking home.