A crime wave has been sweeping Illinois, with surveys of low-wage workers in the Chicago area showing an average of 146,300 cases of wage theft each week -- resulting in about $7.3 million each week in unpaid wages, or $380 million stolen from workers each year. In order to crack down on this criminal wage theft, the Illinois General Assembly on May 3 nearly unanimously (56-0 in the Senate and 112-1 in the House) passed SB 3568, which will strengthen the state’s ability to enforce violations of the Wage Payment and Collection Act.
Too often workers are forced by employers to listen to religious,
political, or anti-union propaganda that has nothing to do with their
work responsibilities-- yet they are threatened with being fired if
they don't attend such employer-mandated meetings. The Oregon legislature this past week joined New Jersey in giving employees the right to skip such employer propaganda meetings without fearing reprisals.
It seems relatively simple. The proposed federal Employee Free Choice
Act would give employees the freedom to form a union when a majority of
workers sign cards saying that they want one, avoiding the often months
of employer harassment that have inevitably accompanied traditional
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election processes.
Workers often face a no-win situation: they are forced into
employer-sponsored meetings where they are harangued with the
employer's political views or anti-union propaganda and, if they
actually speak out with their own opinions, they get punished or even
In honor of Labor Day, we thought we would highlight some of our past
Dispatches which outline steps states can take to protect workers'
rights and raise wage standards. With new Census data
showing that the median
income for working-age households is still $1,300 below 2001 when the last
recession hit bottom, the need for states to act to improve working conditions
is greater than ever.
The past thirty years have seen a marked decline in job quality for a substantial portion of the U.S. workforce: stagnant wages, shrinking health benefits and less job security.
While a number of factors explain this decline, there is little
question that the decline in the strength of labor unions in the US has
played a major role.