Archive for March 25th, 2009

Feeling the Crunch


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Third World Indicators…

in a mass consumption society. This NYT article reminds me of my research in Uganda. I remember speaking with the interim Labor Commissioner, Harriet Luyima, and she told me how they had no staff to do factory investigations, etc., and that many districts had no labor investigators. Well, apparently the USA is not doing that much better. Of course, whereas Uganda simply doesn’t have money for the investigators, our DofL just seems negligent:

In a report scheduled to be released Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office found that the agency, the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, had mishandled nine of the 10 cases brought by a team of undercover agents posing as aggrieved workers…

The report pointed to a cavalier attitude by many Wage and Hour Division investigators, saying they often dropped cases when employers did not return calls and sometimes told complaining workers that they should file lawsuits — an often expensive and arduous process, especially for low-wage workers.

Maybe Hilda Solis will come to the rescue, maybe not.

“We have a crisis in wage theft, and the Department of Labor has not been aggressive enough in recent years,” said Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice, a clergy group that advocates for low-wage workers. “The new secretary of labor says she’s the new sheriff in town, but I’m concerned she’s facing the Wild, Wild West of wage theft.”

A top aide to the new secretary of labor, Hilda L. Solis, said: “The secretary takes very seriously the issues raised by the G.A.O. report. The department is committed to ensuring that every worker is paid the minimum wage and that those who work overtime are properly compensated and that child labor laws are strictly enforced.”

The aide said that Ms. Solis had already begun adding 250 wage and hour investigators.

“This increase of more than one-third will reinvigorate the work of this important agency, which has suffered a loss of experienced personnel over the last several years,” he said.

I don’t really have further comment, other than that weak labor regulations helped get us into this mess.

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