First, the good news. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting the creation of 288,000 new jobs in April. This is about 63,000 more jobs than people were anticipating. As a result, the unemployment rate fell to 6.3%, the lowest rate since September, 2008.
Now, the bad news. Most of these new jobs are low-wage “McJobs.” According to the National Employment Law Project, there are nearly two million fewer jobs in mid- and higher-wage industries than there were before the recession took hold, while there are 1.85 million more jobs in lower-wage industries. This means that more Americans are working for pittance wages, in jobs where they are more likely to suffer from wage theft. Even worse, the difference between what CEOs make and what the average worker makes has skyrocketed. For example, the CEO of McDonald’s makes over $9,200 an hour, while the company advises its workers to apply for food stamps to help make ends meet.
This is why we need to raise the minimum wage (which Senate Republicans have blocked) and strictly enforce the laws against wage theft. That includes suing companies that steal wages from their workers.
***Blog Post written by Attorney Anthony Pantuso***
Workers’ wages are stagnating at a time when there is more than enough money to pay them fairly. That’s it.
Robert Reich explains this point very well in his recent essay. He observes:
Until the 1980s, corporate CEOs were paid, on average, 30 times what their typical worker was paid. Since then, CEO pay has skyrocketed to 280 times the pay of a typical worker; in big companies, to 354 times.
Meanwhile, over the same thirty-year time span the median American worker has seen no pay increase at all, adjusted for inflation. Even though the pay of male workers continues to outpace that of females, the typical male worker between the ages of 25 and 44 peaked in 1973 and has been dropping ever since. Since 2000, wages of the median male worker across all age brackets has dropped 10 percent, after inflation.
Employers, simply put, have more than enough money to pay workers fairly and are making bundles of cash. They simply don’t want to pay them their fair share for the profits that their work produces. The stock market is higher than ever. CEO salaries are higher than ever, but workers’ wages are flat or down.
Wage and hour class actions are an important tool in the war between employees and employers for fair wages. They make employers obey the wage and hour laws and make them pay millions when they violate them. I asked some defense attorneys recently what was the most feared lawsuit by employers. They all agreed it was wage / hour class actions.
So, let’s keep them coming. Let’s keep fighting for employees’ rights to at least be paid what they earned.