Fighting Wage Theft
Wage theft is exactly what it sounds like – the denial of wages or benefits that are rightfully owed to a worker by the employer. It is a big problem in our industry.It is often done in ways that are very subtle, and you may be a victim of wage theft without even realizing it.
You may think that by volunteering to work off the clock, bring in your own supplies, or show up early and leave late you are helping out your manager when he or she is in a tough situation. Your manager might be in a tight spot, but many bus companies are multi-billion dollar operations that make us work off the clock and bring in our own supplies on purpose not because they cannot pay us, but because they can increase profits by not paying us.
A priority of the Carrying Our Future campaign is to make sure that when we generate profits for the bus companies we work for, we are compensated for the work that we do. Fighting back against wage theft is a crucial aspect of this mission.
Teamster Power in Action:
Fighting Wage Theft with Union Contracts
A strong union contract is the best way to put an end to wage theft. Union contracts include specific provisions to discourage employers from stealing wages, and they require employers to pay penalties to the workers when these provisions are violated. This has proven time and time again to be an effective deterrent against wage theft. Article 45 of the First Student National Master Agreement is a good example of how a union contract can help to fight wage theft. It provides paycheck protection to workers by imposing financial penalties on employers who don’t correct paycheck errors in a timely manner.
A perfect example of the effective implementation of contract provisions geared towards fighting wage theft comes from Local 671. Business Agent Tony Lepore said that paycheck problems were a constant problem at the First Student yards where he represented workers and that payroll was not being done competently.
The company agreed to the clause, and Lepore gave workers pay discrepancy forms to circulate in their yards so they could track their hours and make sure they were getting paid what they were owed. Pretty soon the company was paying hundreds of dollars per week in penalties, and it was enough of an incentive to ensure that the company stopped making payroll errors.
Tracking Your Time? There’s an App for That!
The Department of Labor provides a mobile phone app with an electronic time sheet to record the hours that you work and calculate the amount you may be owed by your employer. It also includes overtime pay calculations at a rate of one and one-half times (1.5) the regular rate of pay for all hours you work over 40 in a workweek. Use this app to track your hours to make sure you’re not being victimized by wage theft.