Without public support, workers are quitting, and parents and providers are desperate.
20 years after creating the country’s first paid family leave program, California ponders how to make it useful to those who need it most.
While state coffers overflow, some California families must make hard choices about how they survive.
California tries to address dangerous work conditions, low pay and staff turnover in its care facilities.
A state secret comes into the open: how inflation targets the poor.
The state senator says ‘we’re starting to break through’ on expanding the safety net for all Californians.
A Capital & Main photo essay honors the American workers whose critical work keeps our nation moving forward.
As COVID-19 surges, service sector workers’ necks are again on the chopping block. Joe Biden’s new programs are 10 long weeks away.
Calvin Wongus has had no trouble finding employment in the tight labor market. But for the poorest workers like himself, the jobs have been low-paying and part-time.
Poorest households see real incomes drop in 13 states, have slower growth than under Obama in 36 states.
Co-published by the American Prospect
A veteran labor reporter finds hope for unions in boycotts, minimum-wage campaigns and strikes.
For the past two decades, California has been at the cutting edge of social and economic change in America. Now, with Donald Trump about to enter the Oval Office, the Golden State is poised to take on a new role: leader of the anti-Trump resistance.
Over the next four years these California leaders will be in the forefront of opposing the Trump administration on immigration, the environment, labor rights and other issues.
More than any other place, California is well positioned to push back against the agenda of the incoming president. In this special series, Capital & Main examines why and how the Golden State will both lead the resistance to Donald Trump and continue to advance progressive ideas and policies.
There are many student cars parked at and around Sir Francis Drake High School — some of them expensive BMWs, some environmentally correct Priuses. But when Justice Levine attended classes at this Marin County school, she had to walk to Drake, passing rows of expensive San Anselmo homes. That was nearly seven years ago. Then 14, she would wake up in the morning to an empty house and make her own breakfast — her mother had already left for work for the day.
This is an encore posting from our State of Inequality series
Their rented home — one floor of a modest two-story house — was not well-furnished, most of its fixtures were secondhand and it lacked the semblance of interior decorating. Now 21, Levine describes it as a space she and her mother occupied separately for a long time,
Our friend showed up late in the evening from Northern California to spend a couple of days with us before pushing on in a long-planned vacation. But when I woke up the next morning, he had been up for hours. I found him surrounded by three screens and his cell phone – solving a tech problem for his company.
“Auspicious beginning of a vacation,” I said. “I thought you were supposed to leave all that behind.”
“Oh, no,” he said, “not at my pay level.”
And so it goes. “No rest for the weary and the wicked go free.” That was an oft repeated phrase an early mentor in work mumbled as he sipped on yet another cup of coffee and ran to yet another customer. He may have been obsessive and wired, but he only worked a 40-hour week. None of us worked more, except the boss now and then.
In March, seven class action lawsuits filed in California, Michigan and New York suggested that for the country’s 30 million-strong low-wage workforce, getting one’s paycheck ripped off by some of the largest and wealthiest employers in America is too often business as usual.
Contending that the McDonald’s restaurant chain had been “systematically stealing” from its workers, the suits detailed company-wide practices of managers regularly ordering employees to work off the clock, shaving hours from their time cards and not paying overtime. Three of the California suits also claimed that McDonald’s and its franchise owners illegally altered pay records and denied employees meal periods and rest breaks. Other plaintiffs alleged McDonald’s used a sophisticated computer program that monitored real-time sales volume: When sales dropped below a certain level during any given hour, attorneys said, some managers would routinely order workers from the incoming shift to not punch in for an hour or two until there were more customers.
California has roughly a dozen labor codes governing wage-theft on the books, with more proposed each year in the state legislature. Are these laws proving effective? Fausto Hernandez is one worker who doesn’t think they are. The 55-year-old native of Oaxaca, Mexico, has labored in the carwash business for a decade.
“For several years I worked at Slauson Carwash in South L.A. — 10 to 11 hours a day,” he told Capital & Main. “The employer would only pay me for three hours, never for all the hours I worked.”
According to Hernandez, he sought relief by contacting the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, a community coalition led by the United Steelworkers union. The campaign helped him file a claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), an office of the state’s Labor Commissioner.
Workers who take such action face employer retaliation. Hernandez’s employer fired him, he said.
On Thursday, Americans earning low wages from businesses that contract with the federal government walked off the job to urge President Obama to do “more than the minimum” by signing executive orders that ensure workers receive living wages, adequate benefits and a voice on the job.
The organizers of the campaign, Good Jobs Nation, released a report earlier this week explaining why this change is necessary. As one of the nation’s largest employers, the federal government funds nearly two million poverty-wage jobs that pay less than $12 per hour. Unfortunately, many of these workers never receive any benefits such as paid sick leave and are forced to rely on public assistance, which costs more to taxpayers. We already know these same low-wage conditions wreak havoc on state and local economies. Governments may think they are getting a great deal when they outsource services, but when federal contractors fail to pay living wages to Americans providing essential functions,
Wage theft is a serious yet seldom-reported crime that victimizes millions of Americans – particularly low-income and immigrant workers. Today, as part of an ongoing examination of workplace issues, Capital & Main debuts a new series focusing on wage theft, beginning with a primer on the problem by Bobbi Murray, followed by Joe Rihn’s profile of a port truck driver who works in an industry where wage theft is a daily fact of life.
The expression “wage theft” is a deceptively gentle term. Perhaps “paycheck mugging” more accurately describes the violence done to the earnings of millions of Americans each year.
If you are a target of wage theft no one pistol-whips you to acquire your valuables–but you definitely get robbed. Every week Los Angeles workers get held up for $26.2 million through unpaid overtime, being pressured to work through unpaid breaks or off the clock;