Workers across industry sectors are increasingly finding that their employers don’t want to pay them for the hours they’ve put in on the clock.
Some, like Teamsters who work as port truck drivers for XPO Logistics and other companies, are misclassified as contract workers even though they work full-time hours and are required to be on the job. They have expenses deducted from their checks that leave them with little pay to show for all their efforts.
“Because XPO treats us like employees but pays us as ‘independent contractors’ and deducts their truck expenses from our paychecks, there are many weeks when we don’t even earn the minimum wage,” said Luis Meza, an XPO port driver serving the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. “This is abuse.”
Others, often working in retail or construction, are experiencing wage theft as well. They aren’t getting the full pay they are entitled to for the hours they spend on the job. In some cases, companies are holding workers’ immigration status over their heads as a threat to reporting such actions.
But hard-working Americans are letting corporate America know that they’ve had enough. They’re standing up to big business and doubting elected officials by going public with their stories.
Earlier this week, more than 100 Teamsters and their allies led a charge into the Long Beach Convention Center in California during a shipping conference to demand that XPO CEO Bradley Jacobs end his company’s mistreatment of workers. Jacobs was set to deliver the keynote speech at the event.
It was just the latest union effort involving XPO. In recent months, company workers in Illinois, Connecticut and Pennsylvania have organized with the Teamsters, seeking to strike back against an employer that has failed to offer fair wages and benefits to its workers.
Elsewhere, in Minnesota, workers and businesses have actually joined together to combat the practice of wage theft, noting that when companies cheat their employees it hurts communities at-large. Members of Local 120 who formerly worked for Lakeville Motor Express became the victim of the practice when their employer shut down owning employees some $500,000 in unpaid wages. But the state’s Department of Labor and Industry says it doesn’t have the funding it needs to investigate all the complaints it receives.
Thankfully, there are some lawmakers trying to crack down on the problem. In Colorado, for instance, the House is currently mulling legislation that would make wage theft violations public so residents could consider such matters before working or patronizing these businesses. While it’s not a solution for those currently being shortchanged by an employer, it’s a start.
Businesses that break the law by gypping their employees of their well-earned pay shouldn’t be shrugged off by elected officials – they should be vilified. It’s time to follow the lead of workers.