Mandating community service affects the union
Mandating community service affects the union
In the past two years, these efforts were most highly visible in Florida.A recent study from Florida International University estimates that $60–90 million per year is stolen out of Florida workers’ paychecks.177 Yet since Florida’s legislature abolished the state’s Department of Labor in 2002, there are no state enforcement personnel to combat this problem.178 Further, the state attorney general has failed to bring a single case of wage theft in recent years.
Before analyzing the legislative measures recently promoted to undermine U. wages and labor standards, it is useful to understand where the measures come from, and why they have appeared where they have.Funding was subsequently restored by the state’s Controlling Board, but even so, the state was left only six inspectors for the entire workforce.A seventh inspector was slated to begin work later in 2011, at which point each agent would have responsibility for 616,000 private-sector workers.Yet in that same year, the Ohio House adopted a budget that would cut the workplace enforcement budget by 25 percent over the next two years.170 Missouri House Speaker Steven Tilley likewise called for the complete elimination of funding for the state’s nine labor investigators.171 In 2010, Missouri’s labor department collected 0,000 in restitution for minimum-wage violations and 0,000 for prevailing-wage violations, and issued 1,714 citations for child-labor violations.172 Yet Tilley charged that investigators were being “overzealous,” particularly in prosecuting complaints of employers cheating on prevailing wages.173 Ultimately, Tilley compromised with the state’s Democratic governor, and the adopted budget eliminated only two of the Division of Labor Standards’ nine investigators rather than the entire staff.174 In either case, meager enforcement staff means there is little meaningful protection for employees’ rights under law. Department of Labor investigation found that one-third of employers who had previously violated wage and hour laws continued to do so.175 The Progressive States Network—a national organization of state legislators—has identified the key elements of effective policy for combating wage theft.Indeed, because the enforcement mechanisms are so weak and the penalties for stealing wages are generally so modest, even employers who have been found guilty and forced to pay penalties for wage theft are often undeterred from continuing these practices. These include requirements that employers keep detailed pay records and allow employees to receive a thorough explanation of how each paycheck was calculated; the right of state authorities to inspect employers’ records; workers’ private right of action to sue for unpaid wages as individuals or in class actions; protection of complainants against retaliation by their employers; and the provision of attorney fees, damages, and penalties as part of the enforcement process.176 Yet corporate lobbies have been working hard to prohibit enforcement mechanisms such as these.As depicted in Figure A, in 20, 15 state legislatures passed laws restricting public employees’ collective bargaining rights or ability to collect “fair share” dues through payroll deductions (or, in one state, restricting the collective bargaining rights of private-sector employees who are nonetheless covered under state labor law).3 Beyond Wisconsin, for instance, collective bargaining rights were eliminated for Tennessee schoolteachers, Oklahoma municipal employees, graduate student research assistants in Michigan, and farm workers and child care providers in Maine.4 Michigan and Pennsylvania both created “emergency financial managers” authorized to void union contracts.
New Jersey’s and Minnesota’s legislatures both voted to limit public employees’ ability to bargain over health care.5 Ohio legislators adopted a law—later overturned by citizen referendum—largely imitating Wisconsin’s, prohibiting employees from bargaining over anything but wages, outlawing strikes, and doing away with the practice of binding arbitration (the only impartial means of settling a contract dispute without a right to strike) in favor of the state agencies’ right to set contract terms unilaterally.
This report provides a broad overview of the attack on wages, labor standards, and workplace protections as it has been advanced in state legislatures across the country.
Specifically, the report seeks to illuminate the agenda to undermine wages and labor standards being advanced for non-union Americans in order to understand how this fits with the far better-publicized assaults on the rights of unionized employees.
Enforcement of wage and hour laws has long been strikingly lax.
When the federal minimum-wage law was first established in 1941, there was one federal workplace inspector for every 11,000 workers.
Two years later, however, it is clear that the attack on public employee unions has been part of a broader agenda aiming to cut wages and benefits and erode working conditions and legal protections for all workers—whether union or non-union, in the public and private sectors alike.