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January 27, 2005

Wage Criminals Busted by SEIU

The ugly reality is that literally millions of workers in the US work near or below the minimum wage. Criminal theft of their wages is a day-to-day fact of life in their lives.

And usually no one cares. If millions of middle class families were being blatantly robbed of often thousands of dollars every year, the government would be declaring a new war on crime. But since it happens to poor people- who cares?

Well, at least there's some good news as unions increasingly help these workers win class action lawsuits to recover their stolen wages. SEIU announced today a massive class action settlement with contractors for some of the largest supermarkets in the country.

An interesting aspect of the settlement was that the investigation that revealed the large-scale scheme was funded by the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund (MCTF), a fund set up by SEIU in cooperation with union businesses to uncover illegal activity. Workers benefit and the unionized firms don't have to worry about being undercut economically by competitors profiting from illegally low wages.

That points up one avenue for ratcheting up labor rights: enlist the handful of good employers to support reforms that force their low-wage competitors to either raise their labor standards or be shut down.

Posted by Nathan at January 27, 2005 09:39 PM