Happy Labor Day!! I hope everyone who is fortunate enough to have this day off is enjoying the fruits of a previous generation’s labor. Those brave individuals who fought and died for the right to earn a living wage, better working conditions, and the 40 hour work week. Those workers and Union members would be proud that such a holiday exist in America. They would also be disgusted at the attempts of corporations to steal wages from those very people who generate those profits. Their own workers.
The New York Times recently ran an article about wage theft and its victims. Increasingly, companies are having their employees work overtime and not paying them their time and a half wages. Some employers would not pay at all by convincing their employees that their overtime pay would be on their next check and would never appear. The latter is a tactic used by a popular bakery in the Atlanta area to cheat its primarily Latino back of the house staff out of what is due to them.
Because of the nature of the service industry, employees are required to work extended hours and holidays. This is to be expected, however it should not be expected that workers’ rights be trampled. Many of these victims share the American dream. They want to work hard, save money and support a family with 2.5 children, all without being screwed by their boss. Often these victims look brown, black and may have funny names. What can be done about this injustice?
The Government could enforce its laws, but let’s focus on what we as individuals can do. We can not buy services or products from companies accused of wage theft. We can support employees who are taking their destinies into their own hands by unionizing. You can ask a company if they pay their employees a living wage. If they don’t pay an adequate wage, simply walk out. In order to protect our own rights, sometime we may need to protect the rights of others. If there is one lesson to be learned from the Labor Movement of the 1930s, it might be that we are indeed our brother’s keeper. Protecting those who are voiceless and disenfranchised are in essence protecting who we are as a society. As evidence of this, most of us are at home writing blogs and drinking beer, right??