In Confronting the Gloves-Off Economy: America's Broken Labor Standards and How to Fix Them,
researchers detail how growing numbers of employers are breaking,
bending, or evading long-established laws and standards designed to
protect workers, from the minimum wage to job safety rules to the right
In this Dispatch, we emphasize that any stimulus spending has to be tied to increased
accountability and transparency in spending decisions, especially by
government contractors who often operate like a shadow government with
little oversight. One key reality is that those most in need often don't receive help from
government spending without transparency and accountability measures
built into the rules. While the recent federal recovery plan made real
strides in expanding such accountability, additional measures are still
needed if the recovery plan is going to deliver real equity in our
Iowa State Senator and PSN board member Joe Bolkcom shares his experience pushing for progressive initiatives on wage standards, election reform, anti-war resolutions, and integrative immigration policy, as well as a the promise of state legislators using their growing ranks to form a national coalition for change.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson recently signed a wage enforcement bill (H 489)
to allow underpaid workers to collect their back wages plus twice that
amount in damages. The bill was backed by community groups and labor
unions as well as the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions.
New Mexico now becomes the eighth state that allows workers to collect
treble damages against employers violating the minimum wage — a key
deterrent to employers to ensure compliance with the minimum wage.
Given the central role of private contractors in delivering public services, this Dispatch continues our series of Privatization Updates (see November's edition). Today we focus on current privatization debates in the education, prison and mental health sectors -- and what states are doing to increase accountability for contractors.