Douglas Blackmon’s Keynote Address at the WORK IN THE SOUTH 2015 Conference

On March 6th, 2015 at Loyola University College of Law, Mr. Douglas A. Blackmon, author of Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to WWII, gave the keynote address for the the WORK IN THE SOUTH Conference. Setting the historical context for the conference, Blackmon framed the discussion of why low-wage workers in the South are more vulnerable than workers in other regions. 

 

 

Right-to-Work Law Likely in Another State

The Wisconsin state Senate on Wednesday passed a right-to-work bill, sending it for likely approval to the GOP-controlled state Assembly. Supporters of the Wisconsin right-to-work law note that laws like it are sweeping the Midwest, and have already been passed in Michigan and Indiana. They say it will help make the state more competitive for business.

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Wisconsin is the latest state to propose a right-to-work law

A right-to-work law is a statute in the United States that prohibits union security agreements, or agreements between labor unions and employers. 

While the pro-business package offered to businesses by right-to-work states can be appealing, it has also been shown that wages, employer-sponsored health insurance and employer-sponsored pensions in right-to-work states are lower than those in non-RTW states, and that RTW states have a higher percentage of low-wage jobs. While overall economic growth may occur more rapidly in RTW states, the benefits of this style of growth favor businesses over communities.

 

The U.S. Once Had Universal Child Care, But Rebuilding It Won’t Be Easy

As reported by NPR, “in urging greatly expanded subsidies during his Tuesday [State of the Union] address, the president referenced a national child care program that was in place during World War II, when his grandmother and other American women were needed in the nation’s factories. The program is not widely known today, but if it seems hard to believe, you can see evidence for yourself on YouTube.”

These days, affordable, quality childcare in the U.S. is hard to find, and yet crucial to the participation of so many parents in the workforce. “This grainy newsreel from Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, Calif., shows smiling toddlers doing puzzles, painting and listening to a woman play music. All this plus lunch and snacks, for 50 cents a day, or about $7.25 adjusted for inflation… The Works Project Administration first ran the day cares. The idea was to employ teachers and to also watch kids so that their unemployed parents could look for jobs. When women replaced deployed soldiers in the domestic workforce during World War II, the government funded a major expansion.” Read more or listen to the original story from NPR here.

The 3rd Reconstruction

Each time there has been a demographic shift in America that threatens the existing balance of power, new election laws have appeared to try to insulate the electorate from the emerging population. 

Rev. Dr. William Barber: The 3rd Reconstruction

Another City Resident Recovers Unpaid Wages Under New Brunswick Wage Theft Ordinance

“This first of its kind in New Jersey, the local law allows the city to deny the renewal of operating licenses, issued annually on December 1st, if any wage theft claims against the business are not resolved. Because a business cannot remain open without an operating license, the ordinance incentivizes not only adherence to federal and state standards for minimum wage and for overtime, but also settlement of any wage disputes in a timely fashion.” Read more about the case of Irene Lopez seeking unpaid wages of $5,000 from La Hacienda Grocery Store here.

Demonstrators gather outside La Hacienda in support of Irene Lopez

Demonstrators gather outside La Hacienda in support of Irene Lopez

Several U.S. cities, like Seattle, San Francisco and Miami, have passed their own Wage Theft Ordinances.

 

 

 

Federal Court Strikes Down Rule on Pay for Home-Health Workers

Late Wednesday afternoon, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., struck down a proposed change to the Fair Labor Standards Act that would have required private and state-managed home health care agencies to pay their employees overtime and minimum wage.

Home health attendants and aides, disproportionately African American, female wage earners—neither nurse nor maid, but a combination of both—have historically been singled out for denial of basic labor rights. The DOL issued a new rule in September of 2013, which would have finally included home-care workers under FLSA coverage. The overall rule was set to take effect on Jan. 1 of this year, but the portion struck down Wednesday was put on hold until Jan. 15 pending the court’s decision.

Maria Fernandez, Bernardo Vega

Home health aide Maria Fernandez, right, helps Bernardo Vega, 88, left, make the bed as she performs household chores for Vega and his wife. Fernandez works for United Home Care Services which provides health care and home care services for elderly and disabled adults. Photograph by Lynne Sladky — AP

 

“The affected workers—often known as personal-care aides, home-health aides or certified nursing assistants—typically bathe, dress and feed elderly or disabled patients. A large percentage of them are hired directly by people with disabilities or their families. Others are employed by private companies that provide services. Workers typically are paid with Medicaid funds administered by states.

“Many home-health workers already are paid more than the federal minimum wage—currently $7.25 an hour—but don’t get paid time-and-a-half when they work more than 40 hours a week. Many also have no health-care coverage themselves.”

Read more from Time, Fortune and the Wall Street Journal

DACA & DAPA: Avoiding Scams

President Obama has announced a series of executive actions on immigration. USCIS is NOT yet accepting applications or requests for these initiatives. Visit www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction for information on when to submit a request.

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Avoid Scams: Beware of anyone who offers to help you submit an application or request at this time based on the President’s announcement—it may be an immigration scam. More information about the Executive Actions on Immigration.

Acciones Ejecutivas sobre Inmigración: No solicite todavía. El Presidente Obama anunció una serie de acciones ejecutivas sobre inmigración. USCIS aún no está aceptando solicitudes o peticiones para estas iniciativas.

Evite estafas: Tenga cuidado con personas que le ofrezcan ayuda para obtener beneficios relacionados con el anuncio del presidente; podría ser una estafa de inmigración. Mas información sobre acciones ejecutivas sobre inmigración.

Visite www.uscis.gov/accionmigratoria para información sobre cuándo presentar una petición.

 

 

 

 

 

One Map Reveals Just How Hard It Is to Pay Your Rent in America

 

“Real estate database Zillow has published a map with the minimum wage required to afford the median rent in metropolitan areas across the country without spending more than 30% of income, and the numbers are simply staggering.” For example, “around San Francisco, a person needs to earn $59.72 an hour, or $119,440 a year.” 

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Read more here or take a look at the interactive map here

The Case Of The Missing Wage Thief

Four years after winning a lawsuit demanding $1.5 million in back wages and damages from the restaurant that employed them, none of the plaintiffs have seen any of the money. “Countless immigrants in the restaurant industry work long hours for illegal wages. And even when they get a court of law to rule in their favor, they very rarely see a penny of the money that was taken from them.” The owner shut down his restaurants and “disappeared like a ghost.”

/buzzfeed news

/buzzfeed news

 

 

 

 

“Cao’s story is both strange and ordinary… At every job, Cao worked 11 or 12 hours a day, six days a week. He was paid flat wages that never added up to more than $1,300 a month, always in cash, and with no such thing as overtime pay… Wage theft is an everyday occurrence in American restaurants, especially for workers like Cao. The Restaurant Opportunity Center’s study of the industry in eight major cities across the country found that 46% of workers reported overtime violations, one of the most common ways of skirting wage laws. As for New York City, the National Employment Law Project estimated in 2008 that there are overtime violations in 75% of the city’s restaurants.”

Read more here.

Pay Stubs for All

The goal: Paystubs for All Workers.

“Although most workers receive paystubs, as many as 20 million U.S. workers do not receive paystubs that outline how their pay is calculated or what deductions were taken from their wages. 

“There is no federal requirement that employers give workers paystubs. Often, workers who don’t receive paystubs are victims of wage theft, cheated of the pay they legally earned. A Paystubs for All regulation would require employers to provide workers with the information that they are already required to keep and would help deter wage theft. Without paystubs for documentation, workers have difficulty proving wage theft.
 
“Interfaith Worker Justice and many worker advocates around the country are encouraging the U.S. Department of Labor to issue a simple regulation that all workers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act must receive paystubs.” Read more here about what you can do.