Sunday, July 5, 2009

Free OT = Part-Time Slavery

An insidious common practice in America of abusing both “at-will” and union employees is flourishing.

Multitudes of employers nationwide are telling employees that they cannot pay for hours worked beyond 8 per day/40 per week. Then they saddle the same folks with more work than can be completed within the allotted hours. Sometimes “managers” spend the bulk of their time working at the same tasks as the hourly workers and then stay on past the end of their shifts to work for free.

When an employer profits from the free labor of employees, that is called slavery. When OT goes unpaid as part of a business’ regular practice, that is called Part-Time Slavery.

Since my visit to the Mississippi Delta, I have continued to receive reports from Mississippi, Louisiana and here in California from workers who are forced to donate their labor to their employer.

Management excuses are varied and interesting but uniformly vacuous:

“The workers are showing their dedication”

Unless the workers are equal co-owners of the business, they cannot be expected to be charitable to a for-profit company. The Company is simply illegally exploiting its workers.

“I work free OT myself”

If you a manager working for wages and are not a co-owner in the business, then you are being exploited along with the other workers. Wake up! In the Old South, the Overseers got nicer cabins and other perks, but they were still slaves. When is the last time you were home to kiss your children goodnight?

“There aren’t enough hours in the day”

Talk to God about that, or move to a planet with longer days.

“Nobody ever complains”

Neither do the virtual slaves still on the plantations of the Mississippi Delta. The Iron Heel of big business threatens to stamp out worker opposition to illegal labor practices. Workers are told that they are "lucky to have a job" or "go elsewhere" if they don't like it. Meanwhile, the corporate vampires at the top of the Company plot to ship more American jobs overseas to put another thirty pieces of silver in their coffers. Remaining workers fear reprisals and loss of their diminishing wages. Unions are not permitted to spring up. The few who complain are culled from the herd, given a pittance in a settlement and then fired after a year or so. After all, the Company needs no reason to can its "at will" employees.

“Everybody else does it”

Ask your Mom if that’s a valid excuse.

“If I get caught, I’ll pay”

And if you don’t?

“There are grey areas”

The US and State Labor Codes are in black and white. There is no such thing as a free lunch crew.

“My shareholders will complain”

A worker is worthy of wages earned - even "unpre-approved" overtime. Your duty to the shareholders is secondary, especially in California.

For every false justification of Part-Time Slavery, there is an answer. Why? Because the practice is WRONG. Theft, bullying, lying, cheating - even violence and murder are tools of Corporate America to keep its workers in line.

I challenge every business owner and manager to respond to this post with your reasons for working employees beyond their paid shifts with no remuneration, and I will patiently point out the flaws in your reasoning.

I ask any workers who are fed up with being part-time slaves to respond with stories of your travails, so that all can see what is really going on in the US business world. Since

US and State officials are slow or absent from enforcing labor laws relative to free OT, it will take a groundswell of public outcry to call these bums to account.

To incentivize CEO's and directors to get off the dime and do what is right, they must be reminded that the scope of their evil deeds constitutes a vast criminal conspiracy. Unless they make immediate amends to their workers, they face severe criminal penalties - not just losing their petty fiefdoms and annual European vacations.

The other trick to watch out for: the worst violators have created a multi-shelled corporate structure that resembles a nesting Russian babushka doll. They will try to bankrupt the front-line subsidiaries that failed to pay earned wages, knowing that the money which should have been paid to their workers has already been vacuumed upstream to the real owners of the parent Company. Certainly the directors and officers have taken a nice slice for themselves, and shareholders get their annual dividends. Employees of the BK subsidiary get another tear in their beer.


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