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June 06, 2005

A Crime Wave Ignored

The newspapers and bloggers will ritualistically invoke the need for the minimum wage, but the pervasive stories of abuse and -- emphasize -- CRIMINAL ACTIVITY involving violating minimum wage laws almost never gets the attention of coin scandals in Ohio or which anti-multilateral action idiot the Bush adminstration will appoint to the UN.

Yet down the street from almost every journalist and every blogger, PREVENTABLE crime is happening.  Workers are having their wages stolen.   Kudos to Steven Greenhouse at the NYTIMES for this piece where he emphasizes how horrifically mundane these crimes are every day:

For many workers in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the possibility of receiving the legally required time and a half for overtime, even when they work 80-hour weeks, seems as likely as winning the lottery.

"They always told us work faster, faster, and the money was really bad," said Deisi Cortes, who worked as a stocker at Super Star 99 until April when she was fired, she said, for being pregnant. "We'd ask for a raise, and all they'd say is, 'Maybe later on.' "

'It's pretty stunning the extent to which stores here break wage and hour laws," said Deborah Axt, a lawyer with Make the Road by Walking, an immigrant advocacy group in Bushwick. "The violations seem epidemic."

Yet our national leaders allow this criminal activity to continue.  Forget the inside-DC stuff that most Americans don't really care about.  Talk about individuals illegally victimized by bosses stealing their wages.  Talk about politicians who sanction this crime through ineffective laws and ineffective enforcement.  That is a tough, progressive message that should be harped on daily.

Posted by Nathan at June 6, 2005 07:08 AM