RIGGED. Forced into debt. Worked past exhaustion. Left with nothing.

Friday, June 16, 2017
By BRETT MURPHY, USA TODAY

Los Angeles — Samuel Talavera Jr. did everything his bosses asked.

Most days, the trucker would drive more than 16 hours straight hauling LG dishwashers and Kumho tires to warehouses around Los Angeles, on their way to retail stores nationwide.

He rarely went home to his family. At night, he crawled into the back of his cab and slept in the company parking lot.

For all of that, he took home as little as 67 cents a week.

Then, in October 2013, the truck he leased from his employer, QTS, broke down.

When Talavera could not afford repairs, the company fired him and seized the truck — along with $78,000 he had paid towards owning it.

Talavera was a modern-day indentured servant. And there are hundreds, likely thousands more, still on the road, hauling containers for trucking companies that move goods for America’s most beloved retailers, from Costco to Target to Home Depot.

These port truckers — many of them poor immigrants who speak little English — are responsible for moving almost half of the nation’s container imports out of Los Angeles’ ports. They don’t deliver goods to stores. Instead they drive them short distances to warehouses and rail yards, one small step on their journey to a store near you.

A yearlong investigation by the USA TODAY Network found that port trucking companies in southern California have spent the past decade forcing drivers to finance their own trucks by taking on debt they could not afford. Companies then used that debt as leverage to extract forced labor and trap drivers in jobs that left them destitute.

Read the full story at USA TODAY

This Dreamer Works For The Politicians Who Will Decide Her Fate In The U.S.

Saturday, May 13, 2017
By Dave Jamieson, HUFFINGTON POST

One day earlier this year, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions passed through the cafeteria in a Senate office building to buy lunch. The Alabama Republican was slated to become the attorney general under President Donald Trump and help lead an immigration crackdown. Having railed for years against undocumented immigrants, Sessions signaled a new hard-line approach to deportations in the Trump era.

The Senate cashier who rang up Sessions that day was a 26-year-old mother of three from El Salvador, Ana Gomez Ramirez. She is a so-called Dreamer: a young immigrant who came to the country as an undocumented child. She recognized Sessions and knew how he felt about people like her who had entered the country illegally. The soft-spoken Gomez Ramirez greeted him with a hello. Sessions politely asked her how she was doing.

“He was nice,” Gomez Ramirez recalled after a recent shift. “Even though he doesn’t want us here.”

Like hundreds of thousands of other Dreamers, Gomez Ramirez received a temporary work permit and a reprieve from deportation under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. As a DACA recipient, she has felt the whiplash of the government’s shifting policy toward immigrants ― all while serving and cleaning up after the very politicians who will determine her family’s future here.

Read the full story at HUFFINGTON POST

Trump a Hypocrite on Outsourcing? This Union Thinks So.

Friday, May 5, 2017
By CONNOR D. WOLF, INSIDE SOURCES

President Donald Trump was denounced as a hypocrite by a major union Friday for supposedly subsidizing companies that continue to outsource jobs.

Trump promised throughout his campaign that he would protect domestic workers. He has primarily focused on immigration and outsourcing. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is now claiming the president continues to provide billions in subsidies to companies that outsource jobs.

“One of Trump’s most recurrent campaign promises was to protect American jobs from being shipped overseas,” AFSCME expressed on its website. “But something’s changed. After 100 days in office, Trump continues to reward U.S. companies that offshore jobs.”

Read the full story at INSIDE SOURCES

Workers strike for a $15 wage, and this time with the support of the entire Democratic Party

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
By Kira Lerner, Think Progress

WASHINGTON, D.C .— Daquan Jackson was supposed to be at work at 7 a.m. on Wednesday. By late morning, he should have been grilling the large amounts of chicken and steak required to feed customers during the lunchtime rush at the Qdoba Mexican restaurant in the Pentagon.
Instead, Jackson joined roughly 400 other federal contract workers and low-wage employees with Good Jobs Nation striking outside the U.S. Capitol in support of new legislation that would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over the course of the next seven years.

“It feels good,” said Jackson, a 22-year-old father of a three week old baby, to ThinkProgress about being on the lawn outside the Capitol instead of behind the grill. “I ain’t got to bust nothing or work too hard today, sweat today.”
Jackson said he makes just $10 an hour. Though he has been able to squeeze by on that wage, he said he worries that the recent birth of his baby will make it harder to stretch his paycheck.

“I want more. I want $14 or $15 an hour,” he said. “That would change my life a lot. I could feed my family… Milk ain’t cheap.”
On Wednesday morning, Democratic lawmakers in both the House and Senate came together to introduce a bill that would raise the minimum wage across the entire country to $15 an hour. Until recently, the party was splintered over what wage to support, with many including Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA) holding out at just $12 an hour.

Read the full story at THINK PROGRESS

Workers who really do ‘support our troops’ are getting their wages slashed

Monday, April 24, 2017
By Catherine Rampell, Washington Post
Government officials often pay lip service to “supporting our troops.” But some of the people who literally do that vital work have just been badly shortchanged.

For at least the third time in two years, the National Guard Bureau has awarded a contract for military family services to a lowball bidder. For the third time, that bid was based on plans to cut workers’ pay by about a third on average, and in some cases by half. These pay levels are so low that they may not be legal, according to a complaint filed Monday with the Labor Department.

And for the third time, these sudden wage cuts have led to mass resignations, leaving few workers available to help prepare military families for deployment, reintegration into civilian life, and the financial and psychological stresses that can come with both.

Read the full story at WASHINGTON POST

Pelosi Says “Dems will pass $15 minimum wage if we take power”

Thursday, March 25, 2017
By ELANA SCHOR, POLITICO

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday vowed to take up a $15 minimum wage in the first 100 hours of the next Congress if Democrats take back the chamber next year.

Pelosi offered the commitment while appearing alongside fellow Democratic leaders and advocates to release new legislation raising the minimum wage to $15. Her comments offer an early view at Democrats’ potential agenda for the House if they can regain control in 2018, a long-shot prospect that some in the party think could grow increasingly more realistic given President Donald Trump and the GOP’s recent struggles.

If “we win the election,” Pelosi told the gathered audience, “in the first 100 hours we will pass a $15 minimum wage.”

Read the full story at POLITICO

WATCH: Activists Explain Why Proposed ‘Right-to-Work’ Bill Is Bad Business

Wednesday, February 8, 2017
By Kenrya Rankin, Colorlines

On February 1, Representatives Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Steve King (R-Iowa) co-sponsored the National Right-to-Work Act (H.R. 785). Today (February 8), Joseph Geevarghese, director of advocacy group Good Jobs Nation, led workers of color to Wilson’s office to explain why he thinks the bill is bad for America.

Wilson, who infamously shouted “You lie” during President Barack Obama’s 2009 speech on heath care, did not meet with the activists. But they used their time in his D.C. office to talk about the bill, which allows workers to opt out of paying union dues, even if they benefit from contracts negotiated by a union.

Watch Geevarghese’s explanation of the bill—and it’s potential financial impact here.

Read the full story at COLORLINES

OSHA’s Injury Tracking Rule: A Reasonable and Urgent Step Forward for Worker Safety and Health

Tuesday, July 5, 2016
By Eric Frumin, Safety and Health Director, Change to Win

The Department of Labor has finally entered the age of “Big Data.” The Labor Department is making a significant step forward into the 21st Century by requiring employers in the highest-risk sectors to electronically provide OSHA information that employers have been recording since shortly after the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1971.

Unfortunately, until now—in contrast to its sister agency the Mine Safety and Health Administration, as well as other federal labor and public health agencies—OSHA has failed to make most of the covered employers send these data directly to the Labor Department.

This is exactly the data OSHA needs to effectively target its limited number of inspections as well as its compliance assistance programs. It is unfathomable that OSHA did not have easy access to it before.

OSHA has hard evidence for why this step is needed. But that evidence seems to matter little to the corporate trade associations and their GOP allies who oppose virtually every new agency mandate, no matter how well-founded or ultimately helpful to the employers themselves. In this case, they claim that public disclosure will somehow irreparably harm employers.

However, since 1997, OSHA has already required a small subset of affected employers in only the highest-risk sectors to provide their annual statistical summaries of worker injuries and illnesses to OSHA on request, in part for the purpose of assisting the agency in targeting enforcement inspections. This is called the OSHA Data Initiative (“ODI”). In 2005, OSHA finally released these summary data to the public on OSHA’s website, and only as a result of an order from a Federal District Court in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The New York Times.

Continue reading “OSHA’s Injury Tracking Rule: A Reasonable and Urgent Step Forward for Worker Safety and Health”