Politico: TN one of six states with no enforcement of minimum wage rules

Excerpt from a Sunday Politico piece:

As Democrats make raising the minimum wage a centerpiece of their 2018 campaigns, and Republicans call for states to handle the issue, both are missing an important problem: Wage laws are poorly enforced, with workers often unable to recover back pay even after the government rules in their favor.

That’s the conclusion of a nine-month investigation by POLITICO, which found that workers are so lightly protected that six states have no investigators to handle minimum-wage violations, while 26 additional states have fewer than 10 investigators. Given the widespread nature of wage theft and the dearth of resources to combat it, most cases go unreported. Thus, an estimated $15 billion in desperately needed income for workers with lowest wages goes instead into the pockets of shady bosses.

… This failure to enforce both the minimum hourly wage — $7.25 under federal law — and rules requiring higher pay for overtime distorts the economy, giving advantages to employers who break the law. It allows long-term patterns of abuse to take root in certain service industries, especially restaurants, landscaping and cleaning. Advocates for lowest-wage workers describe families facing eviction and experiencing hunger for lack of money that’s owed them. And, nationally, the failure to enforce wage laws exacerbates a level of income inequality that, by many measures, is higher than it’s been for the past century.

“Low-income workers are already in this fragile balance,” said Victor Narro of the UCLA Labor Center. “One paycheck of not being able to get the wages they’re owed can cause them to lose everything.”

Interviews with scores of state officials, legal-services advocates and labor specialists indicate that the failure to enforce minimum wages touches every corner of the country, but is especially acute in the six states that have no investigators probing wage violations at all.

Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi all have labor agencies, but workers can’t file minimum wage or overtime claims with them; they must instead appeal to the U.S. Department of Labor, which takes cases only selectively, based in part on the number of employees involved and the extent of the wrongdoing.

Note: In past years, Democrats have repeatedly introduced bills in the legislature to establish a state minimum wage — $15 an hour in one filed for the current 110th General Assembly; $10.10 in another – and Republicans have repeatedly spurned them. Some have included a provision for the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development to enforce minimum wage provisions.

3 Responses to Politico: TN one of six states with no enforcement of minimum wage rules

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    Lance Persson says:

    This article seems very biased and lacking in facts. Where are the examples of those who are being cheated out of the minimum wage. Are they illegals who would be fearful of filing charges. Asking for increases in minimum wages is easy to do. Paying those increased wages is difficult for small businesses. The American way has always been for the individual to increase their worth by learning more skills and becoming more competitive in the market place.

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      Leslie Parsley says:

      At the very top of Mr. Humphrey’s piece, he writes “Excerpt from a Sunday Politico piece:” and, as usual, provides a link. Give it a try. You will find a lengthy and in-depth article with enough examples to satisfy the most skeptical reader. And of course, whenever a reference is made to a specific situation, one can always google it or check out Lexis-Nexis.

      No mention of “immigrants” but there are plenty of Latin sir names mixed among the pure whites.

      Oh, and I’m sure the poor under-skilled and under-educated workers of all stripes will appreciate your lecture on “the American way.” They live it every day, but no doubt their version is quite different from yours. Maybe you should hook onto one and walk in their shoes for a day or two. Maybe not. You have heard about planters hiring prison labor to replace migrant workers when the latter became too scared and departed for home, leaving fruit and vegetables rotting on the ground during the harvest season? Most prisoners didn’t last half a day under that hot boiling sun. There is plenty of documentation, so you can Google it. Start with a vidalia onion farmer in Georgia and then head for Arizona and California, where the planters paid to import those useless immigrants.

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        Tim G says:

        I noticed that “Lance” never responded. He must be a republican. He must not want to admit that the farm workers that we import from Latin American countries serve a vital function in our economy. I’m sure he also would be surprised at how much the cost of our food would increase if we actually paid them a living wage. I would LOVE to see him in a farm field for 14 hours a day with a paycheck that equates to $50 a day.

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