Quote of the Day, July 16, 2012
Back at the Labor Ready office, I have to wait nearly 30 minutes to receive my check. The job paid $8 an hour—minimum wage. For five hours of labor, I get $37.34 after taxes. I am not paid, however, for the four hours on call, or the time spent in transit to and from the job site, or waiting to get paid. None of this meets the legal definition of wage theft, but it sure feels like it. A large banner inside the office boasts, “Temporary Workers on Demand,” possibly the key selling point for Labor Ready clients. But for the workers, “on demand” is simply shorthand for lots of unpaid hours. For that matter, Labor Ready has been hit with a string of class-action suits over the years—including one filed last summer in New Jersey—alleging that it forced people to work off-the-clock, and failed to give them minimum wage and overtime pay.
Leonard, at least, avoids the waiting game on the front end, as the warehouse calls in a few days a week to request him. But he’s still only making half of his old handyman wage, and he tells me he rarely gets paid rest breaks—if true, a violation of California labor law. (The company says it works with clients to ensure they comply with the law, and that a toll-free “care line” is available 24/7 for workers with concerns.) Not that he’s complaining. “I get by,” he says. “I know I’m a cheap worker, but I’ve seen a lot worse.”
– an excerpt from Gabriel Thompson’s featured article, “Everyone Only Wants Temps.”