Today’s News & Commentary — June 8, 2018

Published June 8th, 2018 -  - 06.08.182


The U.S. may be facing its largest labor strike in decades, as the vast majority of UPS’s 260,000 Teamsters voted to strike if their union can’t reach an agreement with their employer, CBS News reports.  The current UPS-Teamsters contract expires on July 31, 2018.  The last strike by UPS workers, in 1997, lasted more than two weeks.  As we’ve previously reported, the current bargaining comes in the midst of UPS attempting to modify scheduling in order to keep up with demand from the booming e-commerce sector.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 114 undocumented workers in a single operation this week, CNN reports.  In an intense show of force against the migrant workers, around 200 ICE personnel were involved in the roundup.  The majority of the workers were Mexican citizens.  According to ICE administrators, this type of crackdown can be expected to continue.

Writing in the Guardian, Senator Bernie Sanders made a fervent call for solidarity with Disneyland workers who are fighting for a living wage.  The senator describes how around one in 10 Disneyland workers report being homeless, and over two-thirds experience food insecurity.  He pointed out that this situation is not unique—American wages are stagnant, and over 40 percent of Americans can’t afford a $400 “unexpected financial expense like a medical emergency or car repair.”  Sanders writes that readers should not embrace our model of “ruthless capitalism,” and calls on Americans to join the workers fighting for better wages and conditions.

As if to exemplify the senator’s “ruthless capitalism,” California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has cited Bay Area businesses for over $10 million in wage theft, SF Gate reports.  Half of that total comes from a single employer, Kome Japanese Seafood Buffet in Daly City.  The allegations include violations of minimum wage and overtime laws, along with illegal confiscation of server’s tips.

The California wage theft news comes just as a new report from Jobs with Justice and Good Jobs First documents billions of dollars paid out in wage theft cases by some of the country’s largest companies since 2000.  According to the report, Walmart alone has paid $1.4 billion in wage theft penalties in the new millennium.  FedEx and Bank of America, and Wells Fargo all paid hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties for stolen wages.  Those massive numbers come despite the fact that the vast majority of these cases are settled by the employers before trial, with trial verdicts deciding just 1.7 percent of the cases examined in the report.

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