To the Honorable United States Representative Conor Lamb of the Pennsylvania 18th District

Dear Congressman Lamb:

As your constituent of the 18th District, I have been satisfied with your efforts to represent the interest of Southwest Pennsylvania in ways your hypocritical sellout predecessor Dr. Tim Murphy ever could. Though you may not be my representative for much longer due to a new congressional map, I wish you the best of luck beating Keith Rothfus. As a liberal who supports gun control and environmental protection, I know you may not share my views on everything. But since I live in a heavily red district, I know I have to make due with whoever Democrat has a fighting chance in the polls and be as inoffensive to the electorate as possible. Unlike Murphy, your support for affordable healthcare and unions seems genuine while you appear very keen on fixing the opioid crisis ravaging our nation. From looking at your priorities list, you seem honestly committed for actions that benefit working Pennsylvanians and their families.

However, while your site states that you have a bias for action, I am not sure if any of your stated goals are feasible at the moment. You may be today’s Senator Jefferson Smith in Washington, but sometimes a fresh face with good ideas can only go so far. You may be willing to work with anyone to protect our people and bring good jobs. But so has any politician willing to work across the aisle for the greater good. Yet, sometimes it does not matter whether you are willing to work with those who do not agree with you. But whether those on the other side are willing to work with you. And from what I have seen with the Obamacare repeal nightmare last year and since, I honestly believe that as long as Donald Trump is in office and Republicans control both houses of Congress that our nation’s problems will not get better and even exacerbate in years to come.

Yet, if there is anything requiring direct action by our leaders in Washington, then it is on the matter of Donald Trump in the White House. I am painfully aware he enjoys a credible following among a significant contingent in the 18th district since so many in my community, neighborhood, and extended family have disturbingly supported him and continue to do so despite all the unconscionable things he’s said and done. I know you make it a priority not to criticize Trump by name in your public life out of reluctance to offend potential constituents and voters. However, as my US Representative who genuinely cares about the issues affecting working Pennsylvanians and their families, I strongly urge you do. Now you do not have to talk about Russia or Stormy Daniels. Nor do you need to address his other numerous scandals and controversies. But I do believe if you really care about and respect your Trump-supporting constituents, you need to at least tell them the cold, hard, truth they do not want to hear: that the man they see as their champion has no interest in solving their problems and is not on their side. Trump knows how to give wins to interest groups he actually cares about, many of these are large corporation who support unpopular measures such as letting health insurance companies discriminate against those with preexisting conditions, doing away with key environmental regulations protecting our access to clean air and water, letting financial advisers deliberately give their clients bad advice on their money, eliminating essential banking regulations that will pave way to another recession someday, getting rid of key labor protections like those against wage theft, and handing a sweetheart tax cut deal boosting corporate profits to record levels.

But more importantly, you need to address the undeniable fact that Donald Trump has never been the friend of ordinary working Americans and never will. Throughout his entire career he has reaped in millions from the remains of failing businesses at the expense of investors, small businesses, and American workers. For decades, according to a 2016 USA Today article, Trump has been subject to at least 60 lawsuits along with hundreds of liens, judgements, and other government filings documenting people accusing him of failing to pay them for their work. These include a Florida dishwasher, a New Jersey glass company, a carpet company, a plumber, painters, 48 waiters, dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, real estate brokers who sold him his properties, and even several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others. Since 2005, Trump’s companies have also been cited for 24 Fair Labor Standards Act violations for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage according to the US Department of Labor at the time. In addition, USA Today’s review found more than 200 mechanic’s liens on wage theft claims filed by contractors and employees against Trump, his companies, or his properties since the 1980s. These range from a $75,000 claim by a New York heating and air conditioning company to a $1 million claim from a president of a New York City real estate banking firm. For Trump Taj Mahal casino project in Atlantic City, New Jersey Casino Control Commission records state that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time, if at all. These comprise of workers who installed walls, chandeliers, and plumbing.

Nor do all these wage theft cases date from the 1980s. In May 2016, Trump Miami Resort Management LLC settled with 48 waiters at Trump National Doral Miami golf resort over failing to pay overtime for a 10-day Passover event. The lawsuit contended that some even worked 20-hour shifts. In Trump’s facilities at California and New York, bartenders and wait staff have sued with a range of allegations from not letting workers take breaks to not passing along tips to servers. And in January 2017, several contractors who worked on his D.C. Hotel project with renovating the Old Post Office on wage theft claims.

In sum, these actions paint a picture of Donald Trump’s sprawling organization consistently failing to pay small businesses and individuals before tying them up in court and other negotiations for years. Sometimes Trump’s team financially overpowers and outlasts much smaller opponents by draining their resources that some give up the fight or settle for less, some declare bankruptcy, and some end up out of business entirely. Of course, Trump and his associates have shrugged off these wage theft claims on the excuse that they did a terrible job despite that he often offered to rehire those same contractors again. But the sheer number of companies and others he hasn’t paid either suggest two things. His companies have a poor tract record hiring workers and assessing contractors. Or more likely as alleged in dozens of court cases that Trump’s businesses renege on contracts, refuse to pay, or consistently attempt to change payment terms after the work is done.

Mind-boggling wage theft practices is just one way Donald Trump has screwed his over ordinary Americans. Though he has done well after his multiple Atlantic City casino bankruptcies, his own casino employees have collectively lost millions of dollars in retirement savings after Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts’ value plummeted. According to a class action lawsuit filed against the company following its 2004 bankruptcy, starting in 1996, THCR encouraged its employees to invest their 401(k) savings in company stock. That same year, it sold $1.1 billion in junk bonds to offset Trump’s personal debt and buy more ill-fated casino properties in Atlantic City. Then when the stock price neared its nadir amid bankruptcy, the company forced its workers to sell at a huge loss. More than 400 employees lost more than a combined total of $2 million from their retirement accounts. One worker who put $1,000 into her 1997 retirement account had her savings withered to just $59 by 2004. Trump has never had to declare personal bankruptcy but the company he set up to operate his Atlantic City casinos went through numerous corporate restructurings to reduce its debt load. Since Trump used his company as a means to of transferring his personal debt, issuing rounds of junk bonds to build cash that would erase them. As he prospered, his companies floundered. In other words, he put up little of his own money, shifted personal debts to his casinos while collecting millions of dollars in salary, bonuses, and other payments. Any burden of his failures fell on his investors and others who bet on his business expertise. While Atlantic City casino employees had their retirement savings wiped out, the share price rose from $.57 to $2.04/share, and Trump kept his $2 million salary after THCR emerged from bankruptcy, and took in more than $44 million in compensation over the course of 14 years he served as the company’s chairman.

Despite how many publications like the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and others have done stellar work on reporting Donald Trump’s history of corrupt business practices which have left a trail of destruction and destruction in its wake, especially in Atlantic City. But I was deeply disappointed by how little the televised media and our leaders in Washington have touched upon his sordid history of corruption and abuse of power which I strongly believe are the core of his character and give an idea of what he really thinks about his white working class base. To him, they are just a means to the end meant to be cast aside once they’re no longer useful to him. I know their racial resentment and anxiety over demographic change was the main reason why so many of them voted for this unrespectable con artist to the presidency. But I think another big reason why he is in the White House today is the fact that many Americans don’t seem to take corporate crimes as seriously as they should since they hurt those with the least resources to defend themselves. Yet, when corporate executives steal from their employees and use their company to leverage debt and free themselves from responsibility for their bad decisions, ordinary working Americans suffer. And that is especially the case when workers are underpaid and in precarious situations that will result in termination if they ever dare complain or challenge their bosses. Trump’s crimes may be egregious but he’s far from the only man in Corporate America who’s screwed over his investors and employees. Wage theft is so endemic in this country that the average American has either been a victim of it or knows someone who has. And even when caught, employers who steal from their workers usually face little or no consequences. Since no Wall Street banker has been convicted for causing the Great Recession, I think addressing Trump’s shady business practices is a conversation is sorely needed on Capitol Hill and in our public squares, at least to make an example out of him.

I know criticizing Donald Trump in front of your constituents won’t be easy for you. I understand you don’t want to alienate potential voters. Yet, if not enough people in Congress don’t address Trump’s abuses of power and corruption as a businessman, including what he did to Atlantic City, then I deeply fear he might be on his way to winning a second term as president. Since the Constitution limits presidents to serving two terms, it’s very possible that Trump won’t need his white working class base anymore to retain power in the White House. I really don’t want to face the prospect of a Trump reelection victory. I have been through that nightmare once in my life resulting me crying myself to sleep afraid of what would happen to me and waking up early when I couldn’t sleep anymore. As a young woman on the autistic spectrum, I was almost inconsolable over the notion of losing my Medicaid coverage when the American Healthcare Act passed the House until the Senate’s ACA repeal plan died on the floor last summer. Since finding a job is difficult for me at the moment, I don’t ever want to go through that again. And since Medicaid is so essential for fighting the opioid crisis in this country which is now a national emergency, neither do you.

I know you are a good man and are nothing like the good for nothing piece of shit in the White House. You have made sacrifices to your country such as your time in the Marines and you support the welfare of those who served. And I do believe you care about ordinary Americans and their families. However, being a true advocate for your constituents shouldn’t just be about making stump speeches on what potential voters might want to hear. Though I know you do your best to fulfill the promises you’ve made. I am aware you don’t want to cause controversy among the public in Southwestern Pennsylvania. And considering you won your seat in a highly-contested special election by 755 votes, I wouldn’t blame you.

However, there comes a time when you must state the inconvenient truth that might make your constituents view you as a pariah in anger, which may put your political future at risk. Yet, if you want to prove that you’re truly on your constituents’ side and that you’re willing to put their interests first, then you must make a compelling, respectful, honest case to prove that Trump is taking them for suckers and has no intention to fix their problems. His history as a corrupt businessman who’s exploited employees and investors to enrich himself perfectly illustrates this. In fact, I have compiled a blog post in The Lone Girl in a Crowd highlighting decades worth of his corruption scandals with links if you’re interested. Yet, however vague and substance-lacking they were, Trump campaigned on some ideas similar to yours and promised similar things which unlike you, he had no intention to deliver. Many voters in the 18th District fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Living in a rural area, I witnessed the worst of it with people in my community flaunting Trump signs everywhere I went, of which I found deeply distressing. But even then, I knew Trump was working his art of the con since I had been conducting research on his past and building a case against him. Nonetheless, if you truly respect Trump voters, then you must tell them the truth, even if it brings you fits of rage from potential voters already sold on his brazen lies and false promises or costs your nascent career. Your constituents in Southwest Pennsylvania deserve nothing less.

Asking you to criticize Donald Trump at the risk of losing your career may not be the wisest of requests. Yet, with the Republican Party so deep in his support for this unrespectable man, I am desperately pleading you to stand up to him on behalf of the people in your district. Yet, while you denounce him as a fraud, assure your voters you will work with him if that’s possible and do everything you can to protect them against his cruel and hostile policies that only benefit him, his allies, and his corporate backers. Trump may value loyalty of his subordinates and supporters, but that doesn’t mean he will return the favor for he’s known to stab people in the back once they cease being useful to him or suddenly become a liability. And though he will provoke controversy to please his base, he will not go out of his way to help his supporters in any meaningful way that doesn’t benefit him in return. Since you’ve been a Marine, I’m sure you can show him what true loyalty means as you represent constituents who may not have voted for you and may not be able to give you anything in return.

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Why We Need to Raise the Minimum Wage

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When the federal minimum wage law was signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1938, it was meant to keep America’s workers out of poverty and increase consumer spending in order to stimulate the economy. Since then the federal minimum wage has been increased 22 times with its current value at $7.25 an hour. However, it is a poverty wage which doesn’t keep people from being poor nor has it kept up with the US cost of living. In fact, it’s said a full time job on $7.25 an hour can’t even support even the basic living essentials in all 50 states. Nevertheless, campaigns to raise the minimum wage have recently been gaining momentum across the country ranging from ballot initiatives to grass organizing to major legislative efforts in states and localities. Many have achieved some degree of success. Yet, at Capitol Hill, proposals to raise the minimum wage have gone nowhere, despite widespread popular support across party lines as well as economists. As for me, I feel that not only should the federal minimum wage be increased, it should also be adjust automatically to keep pace with cost of living that doesn’t exempt tipped workers and the disabled. While I do not believe raising the minimum wage would relieve poverty even at $15 an hour, I feel that it’s good responsible policy as well as the right thing to do.

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This graph from the Department of Labor illustrates how the minimum wage has fallen by a third since 1968. If it was automatically adjusted for inflation from that time on, the minimum wage today would at least be $11 an hour.

  1. The Minimum Wage Is an Arbitrary Value-The only good explanation as to why the minimum wage is a poverty wage is mostly due to increases requiring approval by Congress and it doesn’t keep pace with inflation or rising costs of living. This is why the new minimum wage value usually falls from the moment it’s set. The federal minimum wage today is $7.25 per hour. Does it mean it’s higher than it used to be? In terms of real dollars, yes. But in terms of buying power, no. When adjusted for inflation, the current federal minimum wage would need to be more than $8 per hour to equal its buying power in the early 1980s and nearly more than $11 per hour to equal its buying power of the late 1960s. For tipped workers, it’s $2.13 an hour which has remained unchanged for over 25 years. In other words, why the current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour has nothing to do with inflation adjustments. Because despite minimum wage increases, its buying power has dropped and keeps falling. Though President Obama has argued for the minimum wage to increase automatically with inflation which can eliminate requirements for formal congressional action, reduce time between increases, and better help low-income families keep up with rising prices. There’s even a bill called The Raise the Wage Act proposed by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Bobby C. Scott proposing to do just that along with raising the wage to $12 an hour by 2020 as well as set automatic increases starting in 2021 and eliminate the unfair subminimum tipped wage of $2.13 an hour. It’s a policy that makes far better sense the current one. Some states have also enacted rules to do the same thing. So why is the federal minimum wage a paltry $7.25 per hour? Well, since increasing it requires congressional approval, I think it has more to do with politics and employer preference for cheap labor. In other words, it’s an arbitrary value.

2. Most Minimum Wage Jobs Can’t Be Outsourced – While conservatives often argue that raising the minimum wage will lead many people to lose their jobs, we need to understand that most minimum wage jobs are in the service industry. Unlike jobs in manufacturing, it’s unlikely most of them could ever be outsourced overseas with globalization. Besides, when we’re talking about minimum wage employees, their pay has nothing to do with international competition. Because they’re not engaged in the export sector. Competition in the service industry is mostly domestic and localized as well as staffed by local workers and serving a local customer base. In other words, service jobs be in a specific location. The biggest threats to pay in service sectors aren’t foreign countries known for human rights violations but large multinational corporate chains who treat their employees like shit.

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Recent trends show that most job creation has taken place in low wage industries. So it’s no surprise that a higher share of millennials work in low wage industries while lower shares work in mid or higher wage industries.

3. New Job Growth Has Been Concentrated in Disproportionately Low Wage Industries– Today more families than ever rely on low wage and minimum wage jobs to make ends meet especially since job losses during the Great Recession have hit higher wage sectors like construction, manufacturing, and finance hard. And according to a 2012 report by the National Employment Law Project, 58% of all jobs created post-recession were low wage occupations. This isn’t a short term trend either since 6 of the top ten growth occupations projected by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for the next decade are low wage jobs, such as home health aides, customer service representatives, food preparation and service workers, personal and home care aides, retail salespersons, and office clerks. Raising the minimum wage would boost pay scales in these jobs where millions of Americans spend their careers today. And for many it’s getting harder for many workers to move beyond a low wage job. Thus, raising the minimum wage right now is more important than ever.

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Here’s a picture on the hazards of domestic labor. Now people in these jobs usually earn minimum wage or less. Some of them earn more. But what this chart tells you that it’s anything but easy. In fact, it’s hard and thankless work. The same can go for many low wage jobs.

4. Most Minimum Wage Jobs Aren’t Easy– Those opposed to minimum wage increases argue that anyone could do a minimum wage job which doesn’t require a lot of responsibility. But that has no bearing on reality whatsoever. Service industry workers often have stressful work days as well as unpredictable work schedules. A lot of them don’t have nice work environments either. Not to mention, a lot of these jobs lack health benefits, paid leave, opportunities for advancement, and job security. Many minimum wage employees work on weekends and holidays. A lot of them work 8-hour days while some can work even more. Some even have more than one job if they work part-time. Some may even experience workplace injury or illness. A lot require constant human interaction, time management, and multitasking. Let’s just say there’s a very good reason why a lot of minimum wage jobs have high turnover rates. These aren’t easy jobs anyone can do. They’re thankless, stressful, and grueling jobs while these workers receive little respect for all the crap they put up with on a regular basis. I spent a Christmas season working at Macy’s which paid $8 an hour. I spent hours on my feet that I had a lot of aches and pains. I also had to deal with hours of Christmas music in the background. By the end of my shift I was exhausted. I have often seen ads for many of these jobs which have a long list of duties and responsibilities as well as skills like patience, knowledge, care, and communication. There are plenty of caregiving jobs with educational requirements that pay minimum wage like home healthcare and childcare. Hell, even hairdressers and manicurists can earn low wages and they have to go through cosmetology school. Some low wage jobs can require at least an associate’s degree or even a 4-year college education. Building services may also require special skills. For instance, janitors may have a wide range of duties besides indoor cleaning like maintenance, security, and yard work. The cleaning industry is known for hiring 17-23% of undocumented immigrants as well as posts a median pay of $10.68 an hour (though many school janitors get paid more than the teachers so it’s not always a low wage job). Bank tellers, data entry keyers, cooks, pharmacy assistants, clerks, hotel receptionists, and security guards can also be paid minimum wage. In many ways, I think the terms “low-skilled” or “unskilled labor” just refers to jobs with shitty pay.

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Many people argue that low wage work is such because they don’t require a lot of skills, education, and lack social value. If that were true, then explain to me why Cesar Chavez became so famous for organizing farm workers for better conditions. Yeah, that doesn’t hold up.

5. Most Minimum Wage Jobs Don’t Lack Social Value– When most people think of jobs paying minimum wage, they tend to think about people working at fast food restaurants which only consist of 5% of low wage jobs. In fact, most low income jobs pay poor may have little to do with their value in society. Or if they do, then it might be a reason they’re paid so poorly in the first place. At any rate, they’re all around us which include security guards, nurse’s aides and home healthcare aides, child-care workers, educational assistants, maids and porters, janitors, call center workers, bank tellers, data entry keyers, food preparation workers, waiters and waitresses, cooks, pharmacy assistants, hairdressers, manicurists, fish and meat processors, sewing machine operators, laundry and dry cleaning operators, ambulance drivers, parking lot attendants, and farm workers. Sure there may be people in these jobs who make good money like a janitor at a public school or hairdressers. But we’re talking about general trends. We’re not necessarily talking about people who make no contribution to society. In fact, we’re talking about people in jobs that don’t get much respect. If you don’t believe me, then think about how Caesar Chavez became so famous for organizing California farm workers in the 1960s. Or why so many workplaces and corporations in the service industry take major steps to keep their low wage workers from unionizing.

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This is a graph from the Economic Policy Institute illustrating how a minimum wage increase would affect American families. After all, low wage workers are usually responsible for half of their family’s earnings. Not to mention, 1 out of 5 kids has a parent who’d be helped.

6. Raising the Minimum Wage Will Benefit Workers and Their Families– Even if you work full-time at $7.25 an hour, you’re lucky to retain $225 a week or $12,000 a year after taxes and deductions. This is precisely threshold of poverty for a single person. Not enough to pay rent or take care of dependent children. In fact, it’s barely surviving. In no state can a minimum wage worker afford a 2 bedroom unit at a fair market rent, working a standard 40 hour work week. Or at least without paying more than 30% of their income. But a lot of minimum wage workers are trying to pay rent and have dependent children to support sometimes by themselves, which is why many are on welfare and food stamps. In addition to the 1.3 million people working at minimum wage, raising it to $10 per hour would help 1.7 million working below it, and 21 million working above the minimum but below that amount. So you’re talking about a third of the workforce. 17.5 million children will also benefit since at least one of their parents will get a raise. Raising the minimum wage to $12 or $15 an hour could benefit even more. Not to mention since women and minorities are disproportionately represented in low wage jobs, raising the minimum wage could help close significant gender and racial pay gaps.

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Here’s a snapshot on how many hours a person would have to work a week on $7.25 an hour to afford rent in the country. As you see, all the values are above 40 hours.

7. Raising the Minimum Wage Benefits the Economy– When workers are paid more, they’re more likely to spend more, especially when it comes to their own companies or hometowns. This explains why Henry Ford decided to pay his workers high wages to make and later buy his cars. Now Ford wasn’t a nice guy. But even he knew that workers are customers and the better a worker’s ability to participate in the economy as a consumer, the better off businesses and the economy will be as a whole. Though businesses might experience a dip in their profits, they’re able to pay higher wages without reducing employment because the savings can be substantial even if greater productivity and lower turnover may not fully pay for the minimum wage increase. Workers earning low wages are less committed to their jobs and less likely to stay for long. Employee turnover forces businesses to constantly find and train new workers, costing them significant money and time. Most of the time the new recruits may not be as optimally efficient during their training period as the experienced and productive workers they replaced. This can incur indirect costs to businesses from lost sales and imperfect customer service as new workers learn on the job. Add to that the fact a lot large retail companies like QuikTrip, Mercadona, Trader Joe’s, and Costco not only invest heavily in their employees, but also have the lowest prices in their industries, solid financial performance, and better customer service than their competitors. They also have better reputations, more work satisfaction, and less employee theft. 89% of small businesses in the country also pay their employees more than the federal minimum wage. Many small business owners believe higher wages level the playing field by preventing larger and less scrupulous firms from gaining a competitive advantage through very low labor costs. A strategy adopted by large corporations such as retail giants like T.J. Maxx, Walmart, Gap, and Ikea which have enjoyed record profits for years as well as employ 2/3 of all low wage workers. It’s no surprise why most small businesses support increasing the minimum wage to at least $12 an hour, some to even $15. In many ways, this makes a lot of sense since these large retail giants see workers as expendable while small businesses need to hold onto their best employees for as long as they can. Small businesses and large companies have proven that the key to their success is a combination of investment in the workforce and operational practices benefiting employees, customers, and the company.

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This map show the lot of tipped workers many of whom can earn below minimum wage at a rate as low as $2.13 an hour + tips. But the system in paying tipped workers is so complex that these workers are subject to manipulation and abuse. Many have had their tips stolen by their bosses. And many live in poverty.

8. Current Tipped Minimum Wage Laws Are Terrible– According to the National Employment Law Project, an estimated 4.3 million people work in predominantly tipped occupations in the US. Employees classified as tipped workers if they receive at least $30 per month in tips and the current federal tipped worker minimum wage is $2.13 an hour, which is less than a third of the current federal minimum wage and has remained unchanged since the 1990s. While most tipped workers are in the restaurant industry, these include car wash workers, nail salon workers, valets, and airport attendants among others. Two thirds of tipped workers are women which makes the subminimum tipped wage a form of legislated pay inequity. Many tipped workers use these tips to support their families and to pay for higher education like student loans. Labor movements have called to eliminate the tipped minimum wage. 7 states already have and their tipped workers earn full minimum wage + tips which I strongly think is how tipped workers should be paid anyway. New York’s tipped minimum wage is $7.50 which is more than 83% its full minimum wage. And in Hawaii, tipped workers only earn less than half minimum wage if they receive more than generous tips. Other states and D.C. have also increased their tipped minimum wage above $2.13 an hour. But these rates aren’t equal and aren’t always fair. And personally, I find the idea of a subminimum tipped wage as absolutely unfair and ridiculous. Add to that the fact employers are required to make up the difference if a tipped worker’s base wage and tips doesn’t add to the full minimum wage. But this is a complex system that’s both difficult to comply with and largely unenforceable for these reasons:

  1. It requires extensive tracking and accounting tip flows which even law-abiding employers find burdensome and difficult. This also allows less ethical employers to take advantage of this notorious complex system to illegally keep a portion of tips for themselves. Thus, this results in many tipped employees failing to receive the tips which they’re entitled to as well as have their income prone to manipulation and abuse.
  2. Employers are allowed to average tips over the course of the work week and required to “top up” only if an employee’s average hourly earnings are less than the full minimum wage. They’re also allowed to estimate their workers’ tips in order to determine how much tax to withhold. Though this estimation approach isn’t sufficient for federal minimum wage compliance, many employers use this anyway though they don’t actually verify that their workers really do receive enough tips to bring them up to the full minimum wage. One southern New Jersey waitress told NELP, “They just take our total sales for the day—say it’s [a couple] hundred dollars—and they just [estimate] 15% of that.” Under the federal minimum wage law, this is illegal as well as overstates tips since many customers tip less than 15% and “a few times a week” a customer leaves no tip at all.
  3. Tips are allowed to be pooled among various types of restaurant employees, giving a portion of those tips a server receives to legitimately be reallocated to other workers. This is a frequent and sometimes legally dubious practice at many businesses across the country as well as creates other opportunities for unethical employers to illegally skin off a portion of these tips for themselves or use to pay other employees whether they’re tipped or not.
  4. Tipped workers who’ve experienced tip-stealing or other forms of wage theft are often reluctant to demand what they’re owed in fear of reprisal. Many of rely on their supervisors to schedule their shifts and make more or less in tips depending on what shifts they’re given. So complaining about being ripped off might lead to being scheduled on a less profitable shift or simply fired.
  5. Tip stealing is rampant in industries that employ tipped workers who are often victims. Tip violations can take various forms but ultimately, they all result in tipped workers losing some of their tips to improve the employer’s bottom line. Some employers simply pocket a portion for tip pools while others can be less direct such as including non-tipped workers in the tip pool so they can be paid the lower minimum wage for tipped workers. Sometimes restaurants can take advantage of communication barriers among workers. The National Employment Law Project mentioned a waitress setting aside 15% of her tips for bussers but was expected to pay upfront and didn’t know whether they got it. They also discuss how waiters and waitresses in an upstate New York town exposed that managers had simply pocketed a portion of their tips they deducted, supposedly to share with the bussers. Additionally, they also talked about a Maryland waitress who already shared her tips with a captain, bussers, and host who finally contacted a union for help when the restaurant’s managers tried to take a portion of her tips for themselves as well. Several high profile lawsuits have recently been filed in response to these practices.
  6. According to a 2014 report by the White House Economic Council and the Department of Labor, 1 in 10 surveyed tipped workers reported hourly wages below the federal minimum wage, tips included. This compared to 4% of all workers reporting earnings below minimum wage.
  7. Compliance and enforcement challenges aside, despite requiring employers to make up the difference between tips and statutory minimum wage, it remains the case that customers are directly responsible for paying a portion of workers’ wages under this system. Thus, instead of being a gratuity for good service, having a subminimum tipped wage renders tips a customer-funded wage replacement and lowers labor costs for employers in a few select industries.
  8. Work for tipped employees is inherently uneven and often unpredictable with most making substantial amounts on Friday and Saturday nights and much less other days of the week. In addition, bad weather, a bad economy, seasonal change, and a host of other factors can cause sudden drops in tipped income and economic insecurity. Also, tips can fluctuate widely and are often paid in cash.
  9. Nationwide, the median tipped wage for servers is $10.11 per hour and $9.89 for waitresses. This despite claims from the restaurant industry that servers make a median between $16 and $22 per hour. The median wage for all workers nationwide is $16.48 per hour. Median wages for tipped workers in general are nearly 40% lower than overall median hourly wages.
  10. 46% of tipped workers depend on public assistance from the federal government which is well over the rate of 35.9% for all workers. 12.8% of tipped workers in the US live in poverty, including 15% of restaurant servers. In fact, servers experience poverty at well over twice the rate of the overall US workforce. They’re also only a quarter as likely as the workforce as a whole to receive employer-provided health insurance and are twice as likely to be uninsured. In states the federal tipped minimum of $2.13 per hour is implemented, 14% of tipped workers and 18% of servers live in poverty. In states where tipped workers are paid full minimum wage + tips, the poverty rate for them is 10.8% and 10.2% for servers.
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Despite fierce contention in the media and in Congress, raising minimum wage has wide support among Americans. This NELP graph illustrates this.

9. Raising the Minimum Wage Has Wide Support– Most Americans feel the minimum wage is too low and are concerned about rising inequality. A 2014 Public Policy Polling shows that 80% of respondents don’t believe they could support themselves or their families on minimum wage. Other polls show that 7 in 10 Americans believe that income inequality is getting worse and nearly as many believe the government has a role to play in reducing the gap between rich and poor. A 2013 Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 57% of Americans want lawmakers to address income inequality. The Hart Research Associates shows that 75% of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $12.50 or more by 2020, including 92% of Democrats, 53% of Republicans, 73% of Independents, 80% of women, and 72% of non-college whites. On the small business front, support for increasing the minimum wage is 61% or 3 in 5. 63% of Americans support a $15.00 minimum wage. 71% of Americans favor eliminating the subminimum tipped waged to ensure tipped employees the same minimum wage as other workers. 82% support automatic annual minimum wage increases to ensure it keeps up with the annual costs of living. There is no reason why Congress should be unable to pass The Raise the Wage law right now, even with a Republican majority. At least as far as the American people are concerned.

10. Minimum Wage Laws Unfairly Exempt Disabled People– Under the current federal law, the Secretary of Labor can issue special wage certificates to employers allowing them to pay disabled workers a subminimum wage, sometimes just a few cents per hour and in segregated work environments where they often perform mundane tasks that don’t use their existing skills, interests, and talents. Yet, this exemption is based on an antiquated notion that encourages disabled workers to rely on Social Security Income, Medicaid, food stamps, or other government programs in order to get by. There are also current training and employment strategies to assist those with even the most significant disabilities to obtain integrated and meaningful work. And when paired with the right rehabilitative tools, training, and expectations, employees with disabilities can be as productive as their nondisabled peers. It’s also discriminatory since nobody should be paid below the minimum wage, disabled or not. And I say that even if the minimum wage is too low.

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During the Gilded Age, those in blue collar professions worked in terrible working conditions with long hours and shitty pay. Many of these workers were children, some of them as old as kindergartners, mostly because their parents worked in the same place and didn’t earn enough to support a family. Still, we should also acknowledge that once workplace regulations and protections were in place, these large companies still earned money and lost nothing.

11. Blue Collar Jobs Used to Have Shitty Pay– Yes, I’m well aware that a lot of jobs in the service industry pay minimum wage or even less than that. And yes, I know many argue low wages are a cost-driven necessity for these jobs. On the other hand, you have a lot of blue collar jobs in mining and manufacturing which many people see as good paying jobs that many working class people lament leaving their hometowns or being outsourced. However, we should also acknowledge that blue collar jobs were the shit jobs of 19th and early 20th century industrialization with dangerous conditions, long hours, and very low pay. And I mean like working in the mine for 14 hour days on a wage that can’t support your family. So now your eight year old has to drop out of school and go to work with you. It wasn’t unusual for whole families to work in a factory, including the kids who could be as young as four years old. Now we’re talking about a time when there were no workplace safety protections, no minimum wage, no workers’ rights, and institutionalized child labor. So what changed? Well, these workers organized into unions and went on strike for their rights, not just risking getting fired but also getting killed. And they faced staunch opposition from their robber baron bosses. Yet, once they got what they wanted, these blue-collar jobs were no longer seen as shit jobs by later generations. In fact, they were seen as jobs that could support a family and local economies benefitted just the same. But this shows us that the existence of shit jobs has more to do with an employer’s desire for cheap and expendable labor than what the job entails. Also, keeping workers dependent on them that they’ll put up with any abuse they give them. Not to mention, it supports the argument that low wages are a choice and not a cost-driven necessity. This is why a lot of corporations don’t want to raise the minimum wage or have their workers unionize. Not only that, but also that the shit jobs of today don’t have to be the shit jobs of tomorrow if we invest more in our workers. Raising the minimum wage is a good place to start.

12. Raising the Minimum Wage Saves Taxpayer Money– With wages being what they are, many low income workers have relied on public assistance because their paycheck can’t cover basic expenses. Even if they work for companies that could certainly afford to pay them a raise and benefits. American taxpayers spend an annual $153 billion in taxpayer money helping low wage earning families get by. This includes food stamps, Medicaid, CHIP, TANF as well as childcare subsidies and reduced-free school lunch programs. These programs help Americans meet a basic standard of living despite being targets for cuts and reductions. But having workers rely on public assistance has more to do with their employers paying them nothing more than poverty wages. Therefore, the government is indirectly subsidizing these companies that refuse to pay more. In fact, some companies like McDonald’s doesn’t even hide that half their workforce is on welfare and even encourage their employees to seek public assistance. Higher wages at work save taxpayer money since they lift more people out of poverty and produce more tax revenue. Sorry, libertarians, but cheap labor doesn’t come cheap.

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This is a graph from the Economic Policy Institute that shows what the average minimum wage worker. Despite the stereotype of a teenage working after school, most minimum wage earners are adults who work full time as well as earn more than half of their family’s total income.

13. Low Wages Don’t Relieve Poverty– Contrary to what conservatives said about minimum wage jobs being for teens trying to earn extra money and experience, 89% of minimum wage workers are 20 years old or over while many are women and people of color. 37% of them have at least some college education. A third of them are over 30. Not to mention, 57% of minimum wage jobs are full-time and are unlikely filled by teens anyway. Some low wage industries don’t hire teens at all. That being said, statistics show a lot of low wage workers make nearly to over half their family’s income and 28% of them are parents. Sometimes they could be the family’s chief breadwinner, especially in single parent households. In every state working the minimum wage leaves a full-time worker with two kids below the poverty line. Not to mention, low-income wage earners may work multiple jobs which gives them even less time to spend with their kids as well as take care of themselves. At worst this could lead to a case like Maria Fernandes who worked so hard to make ends meet that she died from gas fumes in her car while napping between shifts. Fernandes was said to work 4 jobs and sometimes didn’t sleep for nearly a week. There were a couple occasions when single mothers were busted for leaving their kids unsupervised due to working 3 jobs and lack of available childcare options. Many low income workers have also experienced a considerable toll on their health while their children suffer in school and in life. No one who works for a living should have to live in or near poverty, especially full-time.

14. Raising the Minimum Wage Has Expert Support– In January 2014, over 600 economists across the country sent a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders arguing for a minimum wage raise to $10.10 by 2016 and then indexed to protect it against inflation. 7 of these were Nobel Prize winners. Even the Department of Labor supports this measure and think it’s a better idea than the current minimum wage laws we have now.

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Here’s a map from the Wall Street Journal showing the minimum wage increases within each state. Of course, some pay below or have no minimum wage laws at all.

15. The Minimum Wage Has Been Raised in Localities and States– As of 2016, 29 states, D. C., as well as countless localities have raised the minimum wage, many in recent years. Some have even enacted measures to increase the minimum wage automatically with inflation and the costs of living. Not only that, but despite congressional Republican opposition, raising the wage in these states, D.C., and other jurisdictions weren’t just mere liberals pushing for it. Sure Washington State, Oregon, California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts voted for minimum wage increases. But so have red states like West Virginia, Arkansas, South Dakota, Nebraska, Alaska, Missouri, and Montana. Swing states like Florida, Michigan, Arizona, and Ohio have also raised their minimum wage. The fact minimum wage increases have passed in states of various political leanings should emphasize its widespread support among party lines.

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Despite that many opponents of minimum wage increases argue that raising it would kill jobs or raise prices, keep in mind that none of them bring up this argument when it comes to skyrocketing CEO pay while regular wages remain stagnant. Seriously if your company can afford to give a CEO a generous severance package of a few million bucks, they can raise wages on their lowest paying workers. It’s not hard to see.

16. Opposition to Minimum Wage Increases Has More to Do with Self-Interest and Ideology– I know there are people who argue that raising the minimum wage would hurt the economy as well as kill jobs and raise prices. However, we need to understand that despite bipartisan and expert support, raising the minimum wage is still seen as a mainly liberal issue in the halls of Congress. Why? Because a lot of Republican politicians are bankrolled by big corporate lobbies who would rather use cheap labor, many of whom boast record profits and very much can afford to pay their workers more. There are a lot of libertarian and conservative economists and think tanks to back them up, some of whom want to abolish minimum wage which just makes workers even more prone to further exploitation. Believers in free market and trickle down economics usually see low wage jobs as a cost-driven necessity for economic prosperity. But employers often use this argument to justify not giving their impoverished employees a raise for decades, including your Gilded Age robber barons. Besides, no Fortune 500 CEO uses this argument when it comes to their own pay, which has skyrocketed dramatically. I mean the median CEO to worker pay ratio has risen from 20-to-1 in 1965 to 204-to-1 in 2015. Some of the highest paid CEOs make 300 times more than their typical employees. There are plenty of CEOs with million dollar salaries as well as stock options/grants, bonuses, benefits, and other perks. Hell, even bad CEOs receive generous severance packages whenever they left their companies in worse shape than when they took over. Yet, no libertarian or conservative argues that raising their pay will contribute to higher prices, job loss, or worse economies. Or why people end up paying higher prices and lose their jobs while worker wages remain stagnant. Yes, I know that a CEO’s job may require more skills, education, and talent than a lot of minimum wage occupations and that we’ve been through a recession. But it doesn’t convince me why conservatives and libertarians think raising the minimum wage will lead to economic ruin while raising CEO compensation won’t. Surely a company that can generously compensate its own CEO can pay its lowest earning workers $15 an hour, which is just small potatoes. So I think it’s more of a matter of corporate greed and self-interest.

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This quote by Chris Rock perfectly explains why we need the federal government should raise the minimum wage. Most companies will not give their employees a raise by themselves. They need to be mandated to do it.

17. Large Employers Are Unlikely to Increase Wages on Their Own– While many conservatives and libertarians might tell us that workers would be better paid if it weren’t for all those pesky taxes regulations, it is not the case. The robber barons during the Gilded Age didn’t pay federal income taxes until the 16th Amendment passed in 1916 and none of their tax dollars went to benefit their impoverished, overworked, and underpaid employees. Not to mention, their workplace policies are the reason why we have so many regulations and agencies to protect workers today. Besides, there are plenty of large corporations exploit federal tax loopholes so they don’t have to pay at all. And yet, conservatives and libertarians claim that if we get rid of the tax burden with social welfare programs and regulations, the “free market” will provide and take care of workers. Uh, excuse me but during the Gilded Age, those tax supported social programs didn’t exist and I’m pretty sure the free market didn’t take care of those low wage workers. Unions and the government policies they lobbied for while facing staunch opposition from these large companies. Besides, corporations lobby at all levels of government like crazy for direct and indirect public assistance like bailouts, subsidies, special tax breaks, deductions, tax and policy loopholes specifically designed for them, so-called “right to work” laws, and more. Say what you want about welfare, but I’d rather have my tax dollars go to assisting poor people than to a $3 billion a year corporate jet subsidy, a $200 billion Wall Street bailout, special tax breaks to hedge fund managers allowing them to pay a 15% tax rate, or a $70 billion a year home mortgage deduction with 77% going to people earning over $100,000. Sure corporations may like lower taxes and less regulations but even if they get what they want from their political lackeys, they will not give workers a raise unless they’re pressured to either by unions, government policy, or both. But wait, what about companies that pay workers better wages like Costco? Yes, there are big businesses that treat their workers generously like Costco but the Costcos in this world are the exception to the rule, especially in sectors that hire low wage workers. Therefore, federal government action to raise the minimum wage is necessary.

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By raising the federal minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour, corporations will only have to spend just 1/3 cent of every dollar spent on wages, according the the Congressional Budget office. So I’m confident these large companies with minimum wage labor can totally afford it.

18. Raising the Minimum Wage Is the Right Thing to Do– Economics aside, we should consider the fact that as earnings from corporations and the top 1% increased to dramatic new high, wages have stagnated or lost value even as productivity also rose. This could never be more true for low income workers. Raising the minimum wage will protect the most powerless in our workforce. Now could anyone say whether it’s fair for businesses to boast big profits while paying their employees poverty wages? Of course not. Is it fair for someone to live in poverty despite working a full-time job? Hell no. And if raising the minimum wage hurts their profits, why should I care? I mean a big company like McDonald’s is unlikely to lose business if they pay their workers $15 an hour since they’ll usually make a big profit anyway. Besides, most small businesses pay their staff more than minimum wage anyway since they can’t afford replacing them while retaining a competitive edge against their larger counterparts. As for price increases, well, they usually rise whether wages increase or not. And studies show that the increases won’t be much. What about jobs? If raising the wage results in reduced hiring and hours and more job loss by big companies, it won’t be due to economics. It would be more or less because of greedy executives who’d use just about any excuse to cut their workforces. Small businesses, on the other hand, are more worried about poor sales than being trounced by their big business counterparts than anything. Even if raising the minimum wage does hurt the economy like its critics have predicted, what about the concept of economic justice? I think that should matter. After all, labor is critical to a business’s success and workers who dedicate their time and effort into that company should get a bigger cut in that. Look, from how I see it, there’s no good reason to not raise the minimum wage. And above all, no one working a full time job should live in poverty. Even though I know that raising the wage won’t cure poverty any time soon, at least it can show a good example by making businesses invest more in their workforce. It’s about time.

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As FDR said himself, nobody should work a full time job and still live in poverty. Workers have a right for a decent living wage which has been denied to many in the name of profit. So raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do. Besides, what’s wrong with economic justice for God’s sake?

Stolen Pay: Why We Need to Know About Wage Theft

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump often likes to cast himself as a protector of workers and jobs as well as a great businessman. However, recently he’s come under considerable scrutiny as it’s been recently revealed that he’s been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past 3 decades. A large number of these pertain to ordinary Americans who say that Trump and his companies have refused to pay them for their work. According to USA Today, these include a Florida dishwasher, a New Jersey glass company, a plumber, a carpet company, painters, 48 waiters, dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs all over the country, real estate brokers who sold his properties, and even several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others. Trump and co. have also been cited for 24 violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005 for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage, according to the US Department of Labor data. In addition to the lawsuits, there were more than 200 mechanic’s liens filed by contractors and employees against Trump, claiming that they were owed money for their work since the 1980s. These range from a $75,000 from a Plainview, NY, heating and air conditioning company to a $1 million claim from a New York City real estate banking firm. On his Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, the New Jersey Casino Commission in 1990 show that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time, included workers who installed chandeliers, walls, and plumbing.

All of these actions described above paint Trump and his sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years. In some cases, Trump’s team financially overpowers and outlasts much smaller opponents, sometimes draining their resources. Some just give up the fight, settle for less, end up in bankruptcy, or out of business altogether. Such actions described above are well-known cases of wage theft. Donald Trump has been a long practitioner of this but he’s hardly the only one. In recent years, workers ranging from NFL cheerleaders, Senate cafeteria workers, fast food workers, retail workers, high tech engineers, nail salon workers, and computer animators have found themselves victimized by this very real and very heinous act by their employers. Often, employees find themselves powerless to do anything about it. And if they do, they often have to act through the court system and risk losing almost everything. But since people rely on their job so much to make a living, this is a very important issue with it becoming the fastest growing crime wave in the United States. But it’s not often reported and it’s tough to see how widespread this problem is. However, at any rate, wage theft is a problem we need to discuss and need to demand action on because it affects so many people’s lives. And here I have this handy FAQ guide to show you.

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Yes, this is what wage theft actually is. Unfortunately, Mr. Orange Nuclear Meltdown doesn’t understand this. Because he’s been a constant violator according to the lawsuits former employees subject him to.

What Is Wage Theft?

Wage theft is when an employer denies pay and/or benefits that are rightfully owed to an employee. Wage theft can be conducted through various means such as failure to pay overtime, minimum wage violations, employee misclassification, illegal deductions in pay, working off the clock, having tips stolen, or not being paid at all. In short, the boss is not paying workers for all of their work. Or not paying for the work at the rate they said they would or what the employees are entitled to by law.

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If you experience any of these at work, you might be a victim of wage theft. Because these are common signs like being paid under the table, kept working despite clocking out early, having tips stolen, and not receiving meal or rest breaks.

Types of Wage Theft:

Overtime– This is the most common form of wage theft. The US Fair Labor Standards Act dictates that employees are entitled to receive overtime pay calculated at least 1.5 the regular rate for all time worked past 40 hours a week. Some exemptions only apply to public service agencies or employees who meet certain requirements in accordance to their job duties along with no less than a $455 weekly salary (or $23,660 a year). So unless employees meet the exemption criteria, they’re usually entitled to overtime if they work over 40 hours a week period. Employers can’t change overtime laws and can’t avoid paying overtime by enacting a no-overtime policy or getting employees to agree on special deals. Unfortunately, it’s common for employers to treat overtime as a personal choice when it’s not. And despite regulations, many employees aren’t being paid overtime due to them. Common overtime violations include:

  • Improperly Calculated Overtime Pay– Employers must calculate overtime on the actual 40-hour workweek regardless of pay period whether it be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Many employers are said to average hours over 2 or more weeks, not including all payments in calculating overtime pay rate, not paying employees for all hours worked over a 40 hour work week, not including time spent preparing for work (donning and doffing), and requiring employees to wort through unpaid meal breaks. Such errors may not always be accidental.
  • Comp Time Instead of Overtime Pay– Compensatory time is paid time off for extra hours worked that’s generally granted to hourly employees instead of overtime wages. It can sometimes be legal (though it’s often not due to fear of employer abuse) but employers must pay it at 150%, the same rate as overtime wages. To give employees to take compensatory time or extra paid time off in lieu of overtime pay is illegal under federal law. Furthermore, those who do take the compensatory time option aren’t always guaranteed time off whether they want it or need it.
  • Employees Not Allowed to Report Work over 40 Hours Per Week– Many employers have rules that no overtime work will be permitted or paid for unless authorized in advance. Some employers choose to ignore when hourly employees work overtime or don’t allow employees to work overtime hours. This violates overtime rules.
  • Misclassification of Employees as Exempt Workers– Exempt employees are by law workers not entitled to receive overtime pay. Whether an employee is exempt or not can be confusing. However, it has nothing to do with one’s job or job description or whether one is paid a salary or hourly. It depends on what an employee actually does on their job on a daily basis that determines whether or not they’re legally entitled to overtime pay.

Not Paying for Meals and Rest Period Pay – Meals need not be counted as work time if they are at least 30 minutes long and the employee is relieved from active duty during the meal period even if they must remain available. An employee who works through lunch is working and that time must be counted. An employee who eats a sandwich at the desk or is required to monitor a machine is working through lunch. However, many employers who have their employees work through lunch are guilty of this.

Not Paying for Off the Clock Work– Many FLSA lawsuits involve employers failing to include time spent by employees performing work activities outside their normal shifts. Some may come early and start working before the official start time of their shifts. Such time is work time and must be included in FLSA pay computations, provided only that the employer knew or should’ve known that the employee was beginning work early (and to the extent that the employee spent pre-shift time performing work activities). Pre-shift roll calls are work time. Time spent setting up equipment before the official start of a shift is work time. Some employees may similarly stay late after shifts performing works which should be counted as work time as well. Travel time and on-call time is work time. Time spent by an employee cleaning equipment after the close of a shift is work time. Post shift work time can also include time spent by an employee performing job related activities on the way home like a secretary dropping off the day’s mail at the post office or delivering some paperwork to a customer or supplier. Some employees take work home. That time may well be work time. Similarly if an employee is contacted at home by phone for work related reasons, the time spent is work time (as well as when an employee is called back to work, the time counts as work time). This is a very common wage violation by employers.

Minimum Wage– The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. It’s a poverty wage that’s not able to support a family but that’s beside the point. For tipped workers, it’s $2.13 an hour as long as it’s fixed and the tips add up to be at the federal or above the federal minimum wage which I think is stupid. Some states also have legislation that sets a state minimum wage as well. Depending on the state, the employee is always entitled to the higher standard of compensation. A common form of wage theft for tipped employees is to receive no standard pay and stealing tips. The Wage and Hour Division is said to be generally contacted by 25,000 people a year in regards to concerns and violations of minimum wage pay. Paying employees less than minimum wage is a very common wage theft practice.

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Missclassification is a common method of wage theft in which employers try to pass their workers off as independent contractors. The difference between employee and independent contractor is in this infographic.

Misclassification– One of the more extensive and insidious forms of wage theft which leaves workers especially vulnerable. Under the FLSA, independent contractors aren’t covered by tax and wage laws that apply to regular employees. Nor do they receive the same protection as employees for certain benefits. Thus, independent contractors aren’t entitled to a minimum wage, overtime, insurance, protection, or other employee rights. Nor do employers pay Social Security, Medicare, payroll taxes, or federal unemployment insurance on contract employees. Independent contractors also have to pay payroll taxes to the IRS. The difference between the two classifications depends on the permanency of employment, opportunity for profit and loss, as well as the worker’s level of self-employment along with their degree of control. Nevertheless, employers are strongly motivated to classify regular employees as contract workers to save costs, a practice known as pay roll fraud. A 2007 study in New York state found that 704,785 workers or 10.3% of the state’s private sector workforce was misclassified each year. For industries covered in this study, average unemployment insurance taxable wages underreported due to misclassification was on average $4.3 billion for the year while the unemployment insurance tax underreported in these industries was $176 million.

Illegal Deductions– Employees are subject to forms of wage theft through this method. Trivial to sometimes fabricated workplace violations are used to validate deductions. Any deduction that brings an employee to a level of compensation less than the minimum wage is also illegal. In many states, employers are required to issue employees documentation of deductions along with earnings. Failure to issue such documentation is generally prevalent in workplaces subject to wage theft.

Full Wage Theft– Employers are legally obligated to pay employees. However, this doesn’t always happen and is the most blatant and extreme form of wage theft.

Other– These may include putting pressure on injured workers not to file for workers’ compensation, being denied time off or vacation time they have required, being denied pay for sick leave or vacation time, not paying final paycheck to workers who’ve left, delaying payments (not paying on scheduled paydays or on a timely basis), bounced paychecks, stealing and pooling tips, unpaid internships, not reimbursing expenses, not keeping or fabricating records of hours worked, not paying for training, and under staffing. These could depend on state and local jurisdictions.

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According to the FBI, more money is lost to wage theft than in any other property crimes including robbery, auto theft, burglary, and larceny. And money number is only from the reported cases.

How Common Is Wage Theft?

Wage theft is widespread in the United States existing in all professions and affecting all workers regardless of race, gender, or legal status. When it comes to ripping employees off, employers don’t discriminate. But low-income workers and immigrants tend to be the most vulnerable. Yet, this could happen to higher income employees as well such as in high tech companies. So don’t think you can’t become a victim of wage theft because you can. While no one knows exactly how big this problem is, federal and state agencies have recovered $933 million for wage theft victims in 2012 while property taken in all thefts and robberies amounted to under $341 million. Research suggests that American workers are getting screwed out of $20 billion to $50 billion annually. The odds of you becoming a victim of wage theft are likely but some workers are more vulnerable than others.

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Undocumented immigrants are the most vulnerable to wage theft due to their precarious legal status that leaves them unable to speak up without risking deportation. Many employers take full advantage of this by paying them under the table and threatening to call immigration on them if they get out of line.

Who Are Most Vulnerable to Wage Theft?

Low income workers are the most vulnerable to wage theft, particularly in fields that employ women, people of color, and foreign born populations. Foreign-born women are at a much greater risk for wage violations than their male counterparts. Undocumented immigrants stood at the highest risk levels. Education, longer tenured employment, union membership, and English proficiency proved to be influential factors in reducing wage theft for the aforementioned demographics. Wage theft is more common in small businesses with less than 100 employees than larger companies. Workplaces with flat rate compensation or cash under the table payments also reported a higher instance in wage theft. We should also take into account that while low income workers are most vulnerable to wage theft, they’re the least likely to report it as well as suffer the most devastating consequences. When a worker only earns a minimum wage ($290 for a 40 hour workweek), shaving a mere half hour of the day from the paycheck could mean a loss of more than $1,400 a year, including overtime premiums. That could be nearly 10% of a minimum wage employee’s earnings which could be the difference between paying the rent and utilities or risking eviction and the loss of gas, water, or electric service.

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This infographic illustrates the real costs of wage theft which consist of less income, time poverty, and a poor workplace environment. Wage theft is wrong, it hurts families, it hurts people’s well being, and leads to further worker abuse.

Why Is Wage Theft Bad?

Think of it this way, if you spend several hours working your ass off and your boss doesn’t pay you the money or benefits you should be receiving, you would surely feel very upset about it. After all, you worked for it, you earned it. Therefore, your employer is required to pay you for all the work you did for them. This is how the employer-employee relationship is supposed to work. If your boss doesn’t pay what you deserve, then it’s obviously unfair. Your boss is ripping you off. Wage theft costs workers billions of dollars a year, a transfer from low income employees to business owners that worsens income inequality, hurts workers and their families, and damages the sense of fairness and justice that a democracy needs to survive. And when low wage workers are underpaid, taxpayers face the burden of supporting workers whose employers haven’t paid into Social Security taxes and other funds. Plus the millions of dollars lost in tax revenue. Not only that, but the money your average low income worker loses in unpaid wages is not reinvested in the economy. Meanwhile businesses who do pay their employees without resorting to wage theft find it hard to compete in a market with their additional employee-related expenses.

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Employers resort to wage theft because it keeps their costs down, saves them money, and easily get away with it. In other words, when it comes to profit margins, wage theft is good business despite being illegal.

Why Would Employers Commit Wage Theft?

Many businesses violate wage and hour laws for 3 reasons. First, paying employees less gives them a competitive advantage or higher profit and have little fear of getting caught or punished. If a business can get away with illegally paying its employees a below minimum wage with no overtime, it will be able to sell its products more cheaply than one who complies with the laws and pays their workers time-and-a-half for overtime work. If a business pays its “interns” nothing while its competitors all pay interns the minimum wage, it will be able to charge clients less and steal business away from its competitors. Second, even if a business doesn’t lower prices to undercut competitors, it still pockets the difference between the wage owed and the wage paid. Thus, the employee’s loss is the owner’s extra point. Third, there’s a very low chance the employer will be caught cheating on wages so most don’t usually think twice about the consequences. After all, employers usually can afford the better legal defense and the fact wage theft laws are typically weak and insufficiently enforced. As of 2014, there are only 1,000 to 1,100 federal Wage and Hour Division investigators for the whole country who are responsible for investigating over 7 million businesses and protecting over 100-135 million employees. In 2012, they only conducted fewer than 35,000 investigations and recovered about $280 million in unpaid wages to 308,000 workers. State labor departments and attorneys general combined recovered even less. Not to mention, many federal wage theft cases are thrown out because the Department of Labor couldn’t resolve them within two years. At the state and local level, it’s often even worse since few local governments have the resources to combat wage theft and several states have cut their labor department’s. Even if businesses do get caught, they’re rarely punished. Consequences for violations found are often no more than an order to pay back the wages owed or even a fraction of the total amount. This despite that the FLSA makes the employer liable for the full amount as well as additional equal amount for liquidated damages. But at any rate, the FLSA’s civil penalties for willful and repeat violations are too small to deter offenders from engaging in similar violations in the future. For instance the maximum penalty for failure to pay overtime and minimum wage being $1,100 whether the culprit be some local ice cream shop or a giant multinational corporation like Walmart. Yet, Wage and Hour failed even to seek a penalty in most of its cases for many years. And despite that the FLSA makes repeated willful pay violations a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail, criminal penalties are rarely if ever used. At state and local levels, wage theft laws can be even weaker while enforcement is even more insufficient.

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Wage theft often goes underreported mostly because the party with the power and resources is often the perpetrator or the employer. Victims who decide to take action often face uphill battles, lost savings, lost careers, and possibly very little back pay and justice if they win. It’s a very sad situation.

Why Does No One Talk About Wage Theft?

Because unlike your typical property crimes, wage theft usually happens behind closed doors and is not easily detectable. It’s also conducted by more powerful people typically stealing from those with few resources to do anything about it. In fact, many workers may not realize their employers are stealing from them for years into their job. Or may not know that their boss may be doing anything illegal or violating their rights under the law. But if they do, they may not report the incident anyway if calling out their employer means losing their job or other forms of retaliation like shorter hours, less pay, or increased workloads. Many immigrants are often confronted with threats of calls to immigration services if they complain or seek to redress, especially if they’re undocumented. Some employees in white collar professions are even threatened with criminal prosecution or possibly blackmail to keep them from leaving. Even if they do sue and win, they often end up losing their careers and possibly their life savings to litigation fees. As for settlement, most workers who win their wage theft case usually don’t see a dime. Not to mention, it rarely makes front page news unless the case pertains to a class action lawsuit against a large corporation. So wage theft remains vastly under reported though cases filed in federal court have been on the rise.

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In 2009-2011, warehouse workers sued Walmart for paying them less than minimum wage as well as denying the paid vacations they were promised. Walmart denied this because wage theft is one of the ways the retail giant does to ensure you save more, live better, and contribute to their profits.

What Are Effective Measures to Deter Wage Theft?

The US FSLA requires employers to keep detailed records regarding workers’ identities and hours worked for all who are protected under the minimum wage law. Most states require that employers also provide each worker with documentation every paid period detailing that worker’s hours, wages, and deductions. As of 2011, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia didn’t require such documentation. A 2008 survey of wage theft from workers in Illinois, New York, and California found that 57% of low wage workers didn’t receive this required documentation and that workers who were paid in cash or on a weekly rate were more likely to experience wage theft. So making employer documentation legally mandatory is an effective measure though not so much when it comes to tip theft. As for other enforcement measures, while willful violators can fines up to $10,000 upon their first conviction to jail time resulting from repeat offenses. However, since the WHD is so underfunded and so understaffed (which isn’t an accident), very few wage theft cases are investigated and fewer employers are brought to justice.

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Most of the wage theft awareness campaigns usually tend to be localized and statewide. But wage theft is so widespread that Americans need to have a nationwide conversation about this. Wage theft is a very insidious crime that’s happening everywhere. We need to demand action to deter this behavior. We need to show that wage theft is an unacceptable way of doing business.

What Steps Can Be Done to Prevent and Stop Wage Theft?

First, wage theft needs to be addressed as a national issue in the national spotlight because there are stories that are barely heard on TV unless they pertain to Trump’s business shenanigans or NFL cheerleaders. Second, raise funding for the WHD so they could hire more staff to investigate (which should be doubled) as well as better laws that put stiffer penalties on employers. Third, protect victims filing complaints with government agencies from retaliation and allow them to access the back pay they’ve been so long denied if they decide to sue.There must be ways for wage theft victims to complain and stick up to their employers so they won’t have to worry about losing their jobs or their life savings. Fourth, fix the statute of limitations on wage claims for more than two years. Fifth, mandate that employers give workers pay stubs so they could accurately calculate their hours and have a record to prove they were cheated, which most states do anyway as well has been a proven deterrent. Sixth, have the DOL engage in targeted investigations of industries and employers where wage theft is rampant in partnership with community organizations workers trust and know who the criminal employers are. Seventh, instill stiffer penalties on wage theft violators which includes creating mandatory minimums for employers repeatedly breaking the law as well as make sure that wage theft judgments are enforced so workers could collect what they’ve been denied for years. And finally, provide resources to community organizations with the Department of Labor to eliminate wage theft and win back wages.

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Remember, wage theft can be prevented and stopped. The time is now to make unscrupulous employers pay. And I hope the Burger King goes directly to jail and isn’t allowed to collect $200.

In Defense of Labor Unions

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Though unions have greatly shaped the United States throughout much of the 20th century but have fallen out of favor in recent years. While in the 1950s about 1 in 4 workers were unionized, today only 1 in 10 and that number is declining fast. Unions have lost a lot of their power due to things like outsourcing, right to work laws, negative economic conditions, special interests, companies prohibiting them, or other factors. Not to mention, there isn’t a very favorable attitude toward them either for they’ve been blamed for taking away jobs, hurting the economy, or inconveniencing the populace. Some say that unions have served their purpose and aren’t needed anymore. However, as we all remember Scott Walker’s attempt to strip public sector workers of their collective bargaining rights and fast food worker strikes, many Americans don’t really want to see them go away. In fact, perhaps labor unions are still as relevant as ever today and actually do help this country.

Here's a German painting of a bunch of guys working in a foundry during the 19th century. Notice how there's no attention being paid to workplace safety. Also, imagine doing this work 6 days a week at 16 hours a day for less than minimum wage.

Here’s a German painting of a bunch of guys working in a foundry during the 19th century. Notice how there’s no attention being paid to workplace safety. Also, imagine doing this work 6 days a week at 16 hours a day for less than minimum wage.

1. Unions help create better jobs.

Regardless of what detractors may say, unions don’t really take away jobs since mass unemployment is one of the things unions always seek to avoid. It’s usually business management who does since they usually make the decisions whether it’s in the name of profits or power. Sure unions were probably part of the reason why many American industries moved operations overseas for cheaper labor, but not all jobs can be outsourced, especially service jobs. Even so, most jobs in today’s market aren’t unionized but many aren’t very desirable either with long hours, low wages, no room for advancement, not much safety or benefits, and are held for a rather short time. Of course, while businesses may like cheap and expendable workforces, but job seekers and workers do not. Workers don’t like such labor because it gives them little control over their lives and keeps them on the brink of economic instability. Job seekers don’t like them because it gives them more competition in an uncertain job market where obtaining a job can be more trouble than it’s worth. Recent college graduates have it the worst since many job listings have certain specifications that they may not be able to fulfill. However, this doesn’t mean that young people don’t have the skills to be productive citizens, it’s because the pool of job seekers is too big and employers are a very picky bunch and want an employee who’s already tailor made as well as with job experience. Still, though I’m not sure organized labor may make job seekers’ lives any easier, they do create better jobs and history proves it. Unions have helped make many crummy low wage, hazardous, and long hour jobs into decently paid eight-hour a day jobs with workplace safety, overtime pay, health benefits, personal leave, holidays, pensions, and workman’s comp. Jobs like these are very desirable and reduce turnovers and layoffs which may help reduce competition among job seekers since not many people are as desperate to find one. A job is only low wage not because the work is easier but because low wages are only arbitrary values set by employers. We should also understand that Costco employees work the same jobs as anyone else in the retail sector, yet they are treated much better than other retail workers. Thus, low wages often reflect not what the job entails, but the values of the employer.

In the early 20th century, the US experienced some of the deadliest industrial disasters in history. On March 25, 1911, a scrap bin fire at New York City's Triangle Shirtwaist Factory would lead to the deaths of 146 people because the owners locked the doors to the stairwells and exits to prevent theft. This would lead to growth in unionization for garment workers as well as improved safety standards.

In the early 20th century, the US experienced some of the deadliest industrial disasters in history. On March 25, 1911, a scrap bin fire at New York City’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory would lead to the deaths of 146 people because the owners locked the doors to the stairwells and exits to prevent theft. This would lead to growth in unionization for garment workers as well as improved safety standards.

2. Unions help check and hold employers accountable.

While unions help improve workers’ lives, they also help check and hold employers accountable as well as serve as a middle man in workplace and labor relations. A unionized workplace gives employers incentive to treat their workers decently, helps set workplace standards, limit unfair labor practices, and does all it can to ensure that workers receive a fair deal. As a political lobby, they call for legal incentives in order to assure worker’s rights are recognized by law and that employers should observe them. Without unions, many employers would simply get away with treating workers like crap as well as run his or her business with little account to them. And for many years, workers have suffered in the name of profit. Sure there may be companies like Costco who provide their employees with a living wage and benefits, but they’re not the norm in the service industry or any non-unionized industry. Before many blue collar work places had unions like the coal mines and steel industry, it wasn’t unusual for workers to be paid shitty wages and treated like crap. And when these workers finally got the salary, hours, and benefits they wanted, it wasn’t because the management was trying to be nice to them. Then there’s the fact low income workers in non-unionized workplaces are especially prone to becoming victims of wage theft (especially undocumented immigrants), in which employers deny their workers their wages and benefits rightfully owed like minimum wage violations, overtime pay, employee miscalculation, illegal deductions, working off the clock, or not being paid at all. In the US, wage theft is very severe, widespread, and costs the country $40-$60 billion each year which is more than how much money the country loses due to robbery ($340 million), burglary ($1.4 billion), larceny ($5.3 billion), and auto theft ($3.8 billion) as of 2012. This is a crime but because these workers aren’t allowed to form unions due to company policy, a lot of wage theft goes undetected and laws against it aren’t often enforced. And even if workers do win their cases on wage theft, they usually don’t receive a dime of what they’re owed by the employers. Unions can be effective in deterring wage theft since they tend to go on strike over such incidences.

Here's a rough list of what labor unions have done for American workers. Sure unions may represent special interests, yet their interests tend to benefit practically everyone.

Here’s a rough list of what labor unions have done for American workers. Sure unions may represent special interests, yet their interests tend to benefit practically everyone.

3. Unions help promote the democratic process as and 1st Amendment rights.

While unions may be corrupt, they nevertheless serve as a powerful lobbying voice for a major demographic that couldn’t afford a lobbyist otherwise. For years labor unions have always provided a political voice to the common man as well as helped lobby for legislation in favor of ordinary people. In fact, worker’s rights has always been a special interest to unions, which affects most Americans. In the workplace, unions give workers a voice in major workplace decisions as well as protects workers’ 1st Amendment rights relating to their professional lives. If workers feel they’re being treated unfairly they can talk to each other, address their grievances, negotiate a compromise, or go on strike if employers still won’t listen. In many ways, unions help promote the democratic process in both government and in the business world since they stand for a worker’s right to be treated with dignity and respect. Not to mention, they also lobby for a worker’s right to self-govern which is a very American value indeed. Besides, while unions may be identified to the political left, they are probably the closest thing in the K Street lobbying world that best represents the interests of most Americans, especially after Citizens United when most lobbies and corporations don’t. This goes to even non-union members as well as those who oppose them and that’s why having non-union members pay dues in a unionized workplace makes sense. In fact, a lot of their campaigns might pertain to measures like raising the minimum wage, protecting migrant farm workers, mandated paid leave, and other policies designed to help even the lowest earning workers. They even campaigned for policies advancing civil rights for women and minorities as well as protecting the environment. And within companies, unions area powerful, sophisticated player concerned with more than just the next quarters profits at shareholders’ meetings.

Famed union organizer Walter Reuther understood the value unions had in the American economy. When asked how he'd planned to get his men to pay union dues while being shown automated production lines at Ford, Reuther replied, "How do you plan to get them to buy your cars?"

Famed union organizer Walter Reuther understood the value unions had in the American economy. When asked how he’d planned to get his men to pay union dues while being shown automated production lines at Ford, Reuther replied, “How do you plan to get them to buy your cars?”

4. Unions greatly contribute to the economy equality and promote economic activity.

Since unions help create and expand the middle class, they also help decrease income inequality and generate activity in the modern consumer economy. Unionized workers earn more money than their non-union counterparts as well as likely to spend more. The middle class has always played a critical role in a nation’s economy and the US is no exception. Higher earning workers make good consumers since they have more disposable income as well as a great demand for products. And the bigger the middle class, the more consumers there are, the more money businesses make, and the better the economy. Also, higher incomes provide governments with more tax revenues.

As far as non-union workplaces go, Wal Mart has become the poster child of workplace violations as well as paying its employees poverty level wages. It's said that Wal Mart's low wages cost US taxpayers about $1.5 billion a year since the retail giant has a lot of workers on public assistance.

As far as non-union workplaces go, Wal Mart has become the poster child of workplace violations as well as paying its employees poverty level wages. It’s said that Wal Mart’s low wages cost US taxpayers about $1.5 billion a year since the retail giant has a lot of workers on public assistance.

5. Unions save taxpayer money.

Of course, in 21st century America social programs are a mainstay, yet many on government assistance have also been bashed as lazy unemployed freeloaders or drug addicts (personally I’d rather have my tax dollars go to some worthless bum’s government assistance payment than corporate subsidies.) Sure there maybe a few freeloaders among welfare recipients but the public assistance pool is pretty diverse group including the disabled, children, veterans, mentally ill, elderly, chronically ill, and even the working poor. Such public assistance is greatly limited and only provides short term aid. Now the working poor are a pretty unlucky bunch who are probably more likely to end up on public assistance than anyone else in the workforce. They are also more likely to work for an employer prohibiting unionization like Wal Mart as well as have a low paying job with terrible conditions and awful labor practices. Though many conservatives don’t like public assistance programs or unionism, many fail to realize that bad labor practices can cost taxpayers millions, especially if there’s no labor union to challenge them. Low wage workers aren’t just least likely to support themselves and families, they are also more prone to on the job injuries resulting in disability or death, develop work-related health problems which may become serious if left untreated, unemployment, and other things. In many ways the working poor are either welfare cases or welfare cases waiting to happen (including those with dependents). And to some workers, government assistance may be the only option since employers may not listen to demands or maybe even fire someone for whatever reason, especially when it comes to forming a union. A company like Wal Mart is notorious for shifting it’s labor burdens on the taxpayer which isn’t fair for anyone. Since unions help clamp down on bad labor practices, they also help save taxpayer money.

Here is a diagram on the difference being part of a union makes at work. Since union workers are protected under legal contract, they aren't liable to as many workplace abuses as their non-union counterparts. Whereas if a non-union worker is unfairly treated, there is nothing they can do.

Here is a diagram on the difference being part of a union makes at work. Since union workers are protected under legal contract, they aren’t liable to as many workplace abuses as their non-union counterparts. Whereas if a non-union worker is unfairly treated, there is nothing they can do.

6. Unions give workers more control of their lives.

Not only do unions help create a middle class as well as provides a voice for workers, they also allow workers better control of their lives even beyond the confines of their job. Bad labor practices can hurt families and ruin a person’s life. And it’s not unusual for a low wage earner to take more than one job which can result in more time away from home, coming in sick, sending sick kids to school, or leaving them unsupervised from hours on end. Low wage jobs don’t give workers enough to live on or even any room for social mobility. In fact, many of low wage workers live in poverty as well as have their kids suffer the same fate. In many respects, bad labor practices can have long term consequences for not only workers but workers’ families. And in many respects, unionization has helped many kids from working families go to college. Not only that, but since unions give workers leverage against their employer, workers not only can collectively bargain for higher wages as well as know how much each worker owns, but also go to their managers with safety concerns or ideas to improve efficiency and know that they’ll not only get a hearing, but also be protected from possible reprisals.

Wal Mart is notorious non-union workplace which is known to face class action lawsuits every year amounting to millions of dollars. This has given them a very infamous reputation in the field of labor relations. This is especially when the retail giant decided to open on Thanksgiving. And since it's the leading retailer, many stores ended following suit.

Wal Mart is notorious non-union workplace which is known to face class action lawsuits every year amounting to millions of dollars. This has given them a very infamous reputation in the field of labor relations. This is especially when the retail giant decided to open on Thanksgiving. And since it’s the leading retailer, many stores ended following suit.

7. Unions help companies and businesses.

Since unions crack down on bad labor practices, they also help their workplaces in many ways. For one, they make the workplace a much cleaner and safer environment for both workers and consumers alike. Paid sick leave can help keep a worker’s illness from infecting not only their peers but also customers. And paid sick leave for a sick child can prevent other kids from getting sick as well. Unions also help employers by not just giving them consumers but also save money on fighting lawsuits as well as gives them a better reputation. A business with good labor standards not only makes consumers more willing to buy from them, but also makes employees happier working for them, may be even proud. I mean look at Costco’s reputation is much better than Wal Mart’s for this reason. Of course, Costco doesn’t have unions either but it certainly wouldn’t be the company it is if unions never existed.

This is New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Some time ago, Brady was implicated in Deflategate and the NFL charged him with a 4 game suspension. Brady appealed to the NFLPA (which is the players' union) and got that suspension removed by order from a federal court. Yes, I know this is a terrible example of unions at work. However, if people think unions are either outdated or bad, then why do unions for people like Tom Brady exist?

This is New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Some time ago, Brady was implicated in Deflategate and the NFL charged him with a 4 game suspension. Brady appealed to the NFLPA (which is the players’ union) and got that suspension removed by order from a federal court. Yes, I know this is a terrible example of unions at work. However, if people think unions are either outdated or bad, then why do unions for people like Tom Brady exist?

8. Professional athletes and movie stars have unions.

I know that many people associate unionism with teachers and blue collar workers. However, we should understand that unionism isn’t just confined to the public sector or blue collar jobs that don’t earn a lot of money. For instance, professional athletes have their own union like the NFLPA that helped New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady get out of a 4 game suspension after he implicated in the Deflategate scandal. People in show business also have unions like the Screen Actors Guild whose most famous president was Ronald Reagan at one point. Now neither group is economically in dire straits, but they have union representation nevertheless. That’s because no matter how rich you are, if you’re working for someone, sometimes policies won’t be in your favor. So if rich people feel they need unions, maybe their poorer counterparts feel the same way. Besides, even the most conservative union members wouldn’t want to get rid of theirs.

Here's a satirical cartoon making fun of union opposition. However, it makes a good point on how business don't like certain policies that unions advocate. Then there's the fact that companies don't want to pay extra costs to protect and make them happy or deal with strikes.

Here’s a satirical cartoon making fun of union opposition. However, it makes a good point on how business don’t like certain policies that unions advocate. Then there’s the fact that companies don’t want to pay extra costs to protect and make them happy or deal with strikes.

9. Anti-Unionism is all about big business wanting more power and control over their labor force.

In recent years, Unionism has been on the decline for 2 reasons. First, a lot of blue collar paying jobs were lost during the 1980s, many of which had union representation. Second, many people in the private sector work for big corporations that simply won’t allow them. It’s very well known that big business doesn’t like unions and calls them obstructionists. Yes, unions may have their faults and might inconvenience people. However, I always think that the reason why many workplaces in the country prohibit workers from unionizing has more to do with them wanting more power and control over their workforce than anything else. And if it’s not the workplaces, then it’s free market conservatives who think that corporations having free reign is best for the economy (when in reality, it’s not). For instance, a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee was prevented from unionizing by the state legislature, not management. Sure they want to hire and fire whoever they want. But they also want to control their employees’ hours and only want to pay them as much as it takes to keep them there. Passage of so-called “right to work” laws aimed at curbing union influence, have led to decreased wages and increased poverty rates in several US states. And it’s clear that these laws weren’t aimed to benefit workers but large corporations seeking more power and control of their labor force.

Nearly have the states in the US have "Right to Work" laws in which non-union members don't have to pay union dues in a unionized workplace. Yet, these laws minimize union power as well as lead to devastating consequences such as lower wages, higher uninsurance rates, higher poverty rates, and more workplace fatalities.

Nearly have the states in the US have “Right to Work” laws in which non-union members don’t have to pay union dues in a unionized workplace. Yet, these laws minimize union power as well as lead to devastating consequences such as lower wages, higher health uninsurance rates, higher poverty rates, and more workplace fatalities. Such factors can have devastating consequences not only for the workers, but also for their families (especially children) and communities.

10. The benefits of unions extend to workers’ families and improve society.

While unions may have their faults, we have to acknowledge the fact that they’ve helped not just the workers themselves but also their families, their descendants, and society as a whole. For instance, before many of these blue collar jobs were unionized, it wasn’t unusual for workers to begin their jobs as children after dropping out of school. In fact, it was a very common thing, especially with the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. Just ask none other than Charles Dickens who wrote extensively on child labor and why it was a really terrible thing. Why? Because even though their parents might work 12-16 hour days, they could never earn enough money to support their family. Not to mention, a lot of these jobs were dangerous and could put a family in economic disaster because there was no compensation or safety standards. Even when public education was available, it wasn’t always compulsory and a lot of poor kids tended to drop out if their parents’ paychecks couldn’t cover the rent or in the event of a family emergency. And it was because these children were put to work at an early age, they were denied a basic education and the economic opportunities that came with it. So they ended suffering the same fate as their parents. Unions have been very instrumental in curbing child labor in blue collar industries since they gave adult workers leverage so their workplaces would provide them a fair wage, benefits, an 8-hour day, workman’s comp, and medical leave as well as observe workplace safety standards. Such measures not only made workers’ lives easier, but they also allowed children to go to school and stay there as well as focus on their schoolwork so they’d excel and perhaps get into a good college so they can have better opportunities. Now this didn’t necessarily happen overnight. But it’s a major reason why cities like Pittsburgh managed to bounce back after what happened to the steel industry in the 1980s (though I admit that some industrial areas in the Rust Belt haven’t been so lucky like Detroit. But even in those places, things could’ve been worse). Still, when you’re in such cities like Pittsburgh, you’ll find a lot of professionals like doctors, lawyers, teachers, and what not who had ancestors who were coal miners, mill workers, and factory workers. Sure they may say that some of them achieved success by hard work which certainly fits into the equation. However, if their blue collar ancestors didn’t pressure their bosses to unionize they would not be where they are today. Yet, though unions have made the world a decent, that doesn’t mean they’re no longer needed. In the US, we should be reminded time and time again that a parent’s life at work has a profound effect on a child’s progress in school, the quality of their education, life in their neighborhood, and even their health. That is still very much the reality today as it was back in the Gilded Age since a lot of service industry parents work minimum wage jobs, sometimes more than one. A child whose parents work at Sam’s Club is never going to have the same opportunities and quality life than one whose parents work at Costco, despite that both sets have the same job with the same responsibilities. However, we must understand that the Costcos in this world are a rarity and most companies have never been so accommodating to their workers. If most workers in the service industry want those Costco benefits so their kids could have better lives, then unionization might be the only thing possible for them to accomplish that.

Here's a picture of children working at a factory back in the day mostly because their parents work starvation wages and long hours. Since unions helped curbed child labor, be glad you don't have this. Or at least at Gilded Age capacity.

Here’s a picture of children working at a factory back in the day mostly because their parents work starvation wages and long hours. Since unions helped curbed child labor, be glad you don’t have this. Or at least at Gilded Age capacity.

Bad Movie Bosses

Of course, we all have to deal with a bad boss sometime or another, especially if we’re working a job we don’t like or possibly the only one we could get. Still, when it comes to work, most of us decide to put up with terrible bosses since you really can’t quit a job like you can quit a relationship or what not. After all, people depend on their jobs for so much that they’re willing to put up with 8 hours in hell if they could get a paycheck to pay for their basic needs. And in a job market like this, it’s not easy just to tell your boss where to shove it and throw caution to the winds because getting another job isn’t easy (it’s actually a complete hell, especially if you have student loan bills to worry about). Of course, sometimes the movie world is no exception to this in which a lot of bosses do make their life difficult for their employees. Some of them are incompetent and careless. Some are downright evil and chronic backstabbers. And some just abuse their power as well as cause a lot of destruction. So to salute Labor Day weekend, here is a list of terrible movie bosses you don’t want to work for.

1. Captain Ahab

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From: Moby Dick

Occupation: Captain of the Pequod.

The Problem: Single-minded obsessions which are self-destructive and result in his crew’s endangerment. Also, is practically insane.

Sure we all know that killing whales is a grisly and dangerous profession that requires months away from home in the early 19th century. Of course, people today wouldn’t approve killing whales for lamp oil and other products (besides food if you’re Japanese or a Pacific Northwest Indian) but people’s homes have to be lit some way. Still, Captain Ahab makes the list of bad movie bosses because of how his single minded obsession not only leads to his own self-destruction and insanity but also to the endangerment of his crew and ship. Ahab may be a competent captain who inspires great loyalty in his crew but his obsession with Moby Dick practically consumes him that he cares about little else whether it be his crew’s welfare or focusing on the mission’s bottom line which is to hunt whales. It doesn’t help that his second-in-command Starbuck realizes that his captain has gone insane and shouldn’t be in command.  Even  worse is that Captain Ahab is competent and charismatic enough to get most of his crew to go along with his Moby Dick obsession (not that they had any choice since they’re all stuck on a ship, you know). Still, though Captain Ahab is dragged into the ocean by the white whale in the end, the ship is destroyed and everyone in the crew is dead save the narrator. Let’s just say that such destruction would’ve been avoided if Starbuck’s sense of duty didn’t override his common sense to throw Ahab to the sharks.

2. Willy Wonka

Willy Wonka Wilder

From: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Occupation: Confectionery Industrialist and Entrepreneur

The Problem: Workplace endangerment, caring little for people, and heavily skewed priorities. Also, isn’t quite right in the head.

Let’s face it, despite having a factory to the specifications of any kid’s dream (or nightmares), you don’t want to work for Willy Wonka. Sure he may love his candy and his factory, but we have to understand that Wonka is a nutty recluse and control freak who doesn’t give a damn about other people and he’s very lucky that people in his community don’t have a raging hatred for him. Wonka may have a right to be overly concerned with corporate espionage since the candy business was highly competitive. Yet, firing your entire workforce with perhaps little or no compensation just seems a bit of overkill. And replacing it with a nation of Oompah Loompahs who don’t earn any money for their work kind of seems to add insult to injury. Not only that, but Wonka kind of isolates these people in his factory who may be susceptible to who knows what after he takes a group of kids on a tour. Still, Wonka’s employees may look up to him but he uses them for experiments with candy that wouldn’t be FDA approved and his  factory is basically a dangerous work place filled with all kinds of death traps. And it doesn’t help that Wonka is more preoccupied with aesthetics and his candy than practical safety issues. Not to mention other concerns that the movies haven’t shown. You can read it all here from one of my previous posts: https://historymaniacmegan.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/willy-wonka-and-the-workplace-violations-report/ . And if there’s a movie boss whose workplace violations report can make a good blog post, then Wonka is a very bad boss indeed.

3. Dr. Julia Harris D. D. S.

Horrible-Bosses-Film-Still-Jennifer-Aniston-3

From: Horrible Bosses

Occupation: Dentist

The Problem: Sexual harassment, sexual assault, abuse of power, no respect for consent laws or workplace ethics, and blackmail.

Now Horrible Bosses has three people who can be worthy of the World’s Worst Boss mug. Yet, out of these three, Julia Harris seems to stand out for me, especially how she treats her hygienist Dale Arbus. Julia belongs on this list since she’s one of the best movie examples of how sexual harassment in the workplace could make an employee’s life an absolute hell, especially if the harasser is your boss. Sure Julia may be played by Jennifer Aniston, but she’s constantly making sexual advances on Dale who doesn’t like it at all. Of course, Dale is engaged to be married, a fact Julia doesn’t seem to respect and is willing to ruin his relationship unless he sleeps with her, willingly or not. And it doesn’t help that Dale is basically stuck working for her due to being on a sex offender list for public urination near a playground nor the fact that Julia tends to sexually assault her own male patients while unconscious. Basically Julia’s behavior toward Dale makes him feel so powerless and sees her as such a threat to his relationship with his fiancee that he’s willing to commit extralegal activities like murder and blackmail. Being a hygienist for a gorgeous dentist might be a straight man’s fantasy but not if her sex crazed antics have a potential to ruin your life.

4. Fagin

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From: Oliver Twist and its subsequent adaptations

Occupation: Criminal Gang Boss

The Problem: Takes advantage of poor desperate children and doesn’t give a rat’s ass about them. Also, kind of abusive.

Now you probably don’t want to work for a lot of bosses in many Dickensian works since many of them tend to be bastards who make bastards who make little kids work in horrendous conditions for starvation wages and aren’t held accountable to whatever damage they cause since these works were written in the 19th century. Let’s just say that out of all Dickensian bosses Ebenezer Scrooge is benevolent in comparison even before being visited by three ghosts on the night before Christmas. Bad as Scrooge may be but at least most of his employees were adults with desk jobs as far as the adaptations are concerned. Still, I have Fagin on the list because he’s basically a bottom feeder in an awful system. Now he’s the kind of representative criminal you’d find in the slums of Victorian England who would take in children who basically have no where else to go but either the workhouse or the streets and train them in pickpocketing and other illegal activities. Sure Fagin may teach these kids how to make a living but he’s also creating a legion of juvenile delinquents destined to go to very bad ends, thus making him a terrible role model. Also, he makes them steal for him and takes a share of the proceeds adding to his wealth. Not only that, he cares more about accumulating wealth and not getting caught than the welfare of those under his wing, especially those kids hanged by the authorities. And he also displays abusive behavior to those kids who don’t do his bidding like the Artful Dodger as well as throw others out who don’t perform up to snuff. Basically this guy is a bastard in more ways than one and the fact he’s a criminal who recruits children he unapologetically mistreats just makes it worse.

5. Franklin Hart Jr.

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From: 9 to 5

Occupation: Corporate Executive

The Problem: Corruption, incompetence, bullying, sexual harassment, sexism, and blackmail.

Dabney Coleman was the go to guy for corrupt corporate executives in the 1980s and this film is no exception. Of course, what stands out is that he’s a sexist pig in a workplace of mostly female employees. And it’s perfectly clear that many of them are more competent of running the company than he is, especially Violet Newstead who has great ideas Hart is willing to steal from, but isn’t willing to give her a promotion solely due to her sex. He hits on his married secretary Doralee Rhodes by spreading false rumors that they’re having an affair (though they are not) that results in her losing credibility in the office. Oh, and he cruelly yells at and threatens Judy Bernley after she made a mistake on her first day at work and fires another female worker over an overheard conversation on salary differences. And what’s worse is that Hart sees absolutely nothing wrong with any of it. You can see why Violet, Doralee, and Judy conspire to murder (and later kidnap) him and the office is a much better place after they do.

6. Jeff D. Sheldrake

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From: The Apartment

Occupation: Corporate Executive

The Problem: Being a top boss in a toxic corporate culture, rewarding employees for what they could do for him than actual competence, sexual harassment, corruption, and driving a female employee to try to kill herself.

Fred MacMurray may be best remembered by your parents as the father on My Three Sons despite the fact he was an utter turd in The Caine Mutiny and couldn’t keep it in his pants in Double Indemnity. In The Apartment, he’s an utter turd who can’t keep it in his pants with a family as well as a cushy senior executive job at any insurance company. Now C. C. Baxter’s is a man who’s so desperate to get ahead that he’s willing to let his superior executives use his apartment for their extra-marital proclivities. Unfortunately, this leaves Baxter with an undeserved reputation as a hard drinking womanizer and not much of a personal life outside his workplace. Despite his apparently nice facade, Sheldrake is basically the worst of the lot for not only does he promote Baxter on the condition that he use his underling’s apartment for his own affair but is also sleeping with Baxter’s crush an elevator girl Fran Kubelik who has a bad case of low self-esteem. And Kubelik is only one  in a long line of Sheldrake’s conquests who were all manipulated and lied to just so Sheldrake could get a little bit on the side. Sheldrake cares nothing about Kubelik and when his Christmas gift to her of $100 leads her to attempt suicide, he just spends Christmas with his family and has Baxter deal with the ordeal. Let’s just say if you have to choose between your career and love interest while working for this steaming piece of shit, go with the love interest.

7. Gordon Gekko

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From: Wall Street

Occupation: Corporate Raider

The Problem: Greed, corruption, has no concern to care or invest in employees’ well-being, abuse of power, bullying, and backstabbing.

Gordon Gekko is basically unrestrained greed personified and a man who truly loves capitalism above all else. Sure he may seem charming at first and may be wiling to show you the ropes of corporate finance. However, remember that while he’s great to work for when things are going well, he’s absolute terror when the deal goes bad and doesn’t give a damn about who he screws over or which employees he throws under the bus. All he cares about is making money, gaining power, and being rich, plain and simple. After all, he did say, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind and greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the U.S.A” Gekko will claw his way to the top even if it means dirty dealing and insider trading or go to jail for trying while taking a few with him. And he’s not above berating his employees or resorting to physical force if he so chooses. Still, it’s no wonder that Michael Douglas cringes whenever he hears from stockbrokers how Gordon Gekko inspired them to become stockbrokers. Gekko may be seen as a financial role model for libertarians and people on Wall Street, but he’s a horrible man you wouldn’t want to work for as well as a horrible human being.

8. Lieutenant Colonel Nicholson

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From: Bridge on the River Kwai

Occupation: British Army Officer and POW

The Problem: Basically drives his men complete a building project as a morale building exercise, but ends up having his unit commit treason instead. Also driving his men to exhaustion in order to complete the said bridge. Having very skewed priorities.

Of course, being POW in a Japanese prison camp during World War II was a terrible experience for any soldier, especially in Southeast Asia since it involved a lot of hard labor in the jungle as well as sparse accommodations and torture. You can hardly blame Lt. Col. Nicholson for wanting to make things better for his men at the prison camp as well as try to build their morale. Nicholson is willing to stick up for his men as well has have the Colonel Saito conduct his camp in accordance to the Geneva Conventions. Yes, he has a lot of guts and means very well yet Nicholson thinks that helping the Japanese build a bridge for their railroad would be a great morale building exercise for his men and its completion would exemplify the ingenuity and hard work of the British Army for generations. And he’s willing to drive his drive his men to exhaustion to complete the bridge on time whether they like it or not. Unfortunately, Nicholson basically too consumed in the project to realize that he’s collaborating with the enemy and having his men commit treason against their own country at a time of war. I’m sure that once the war is over, his men are going to wish they would’ve fragged him or at least escaped with Shears when they had the chance. Despite that Nicholson isn’t a bad guy and may have redeemed himself by blowing up the bridge, his soldiers are going to remember him as a national disgrace and regret what they’ve done, especially if they’re being tried for war crimes back home. Nicholson should’ve just tried to escape or at least not have cared so much about building that damned bridge.

9. Hilly Holbrook

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From: The Help

Occupation: Housewife and Socialite

The Problem: Racism, thanklessness, entitlement, vindictiveness, and overall nastiness.

Now in being a black maid in segregation era  America was a very thankless job that pertained to doing housework for some white woman who saw their servants as less than equal. Minny Jackson has it incredibly bad under Hilly, a snooty and entitled bitch who treats her employees like disease ridden animals (as well as everyone else’s). She even insists that her maids use a separate bathroom and fires Minny for using her bathroom during a potentially deadly thunderstorm. Luckily Minny gets the last laugh by having Hilly eat her chocolate and feces pie. Minny’s successor Yule May Davis has it far worse since she ended up fired for stealing and pawning Hilly’s ring so she could have money to pay for her twins sons’ tuition that Hilly wouldn’t lend to her which was $75. Oh, and she has Aibileen Clark framed for stealing loaned silver cutlery and fired by her boss after Aibileen basically denounces her as the godless vindictive woman she is.

10. Margaret Tate

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From: The Proposal

Occupation: Executive Editor in Chief

The Problem: Sexual harassment, forcing an employee to marry her, blackmail, and abuse of power.

Now Margaret Tate may be a maniacal, insensitive, and annoying career bitch. However, she makes the list because she basically forced one of her employees to marry her when she’s under the threat of deportation. Sure this movie is a romantic comedy but making an employee marry you for whatever reason (or pretending to be engaged) whether expired Visa or not is an abuse of power. Oh, and it doesn’t help that she’s putting Andrew Paxton at risk for felony charges for immigration fraud that amount to a fine of $250,000 and 5 years in prison. Of course, to avert this means they have to go on a trip to meet Andrew’s family  in Alaska. Now Margaret and Andrew may live happily ever after as far as we know, yet we’re sure that having a relationship with your boss wasn’t much of a choice for Andrew. And it doesn’t help that he disliked her so much while working for her. This isn’t a great beginning to a beautiful relationship and if I had a male employer who tried to force me to marry him for whatever reason (even with blackmail), I would just quit my job, especially if I disliked the guy in the first place. Besides, I’m not sure if Margaret knew whether Andrew was seeing anyone in the first place, which also has its share of negative repercussions.

11. Colonel Nathan R. Jessup

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From: A Few Good Men

Occupation: United States Marine Corps Officer and Commander of the Guatanamo Bay Naval Base

The Problem: Being a trigger happy psychopath, showing no loyalty to his troops, having a volatile personality, hypocrisy, illegally ordering a murder, driving a subordinate to suicide, corruption, refusal to take responsibility, and abuse of power.

Now say what you want about Lt. Col. Nicholson but he’s practically a saint compared to Colonel Jessup who is just one bad guy running Guatanamo Bay almost akin to a Nazi prison camp. While Nicholson tried to do what he thought was best for his men, Jessup shows no honor and loyalty for his troops and would sooner have one physically punished illegally and so dangerously that he dies from the encounter which he covers up rather than send him away on point of principle. He also forces a subordinate to forge a transfer order of a murdered marine which leads the guy to commit suicide before he could testify against Jessup in court.  And even when Jessup admits to directly ordering an illegal “Code Red” disciplinary measure, he feels incensed at being held responsible for it and feels that he’s totally justified in what he’s done. Sure he may give a great speech like “You can’t handle the truth!” and talk about how it’s supposed to be the duty of the strong to protect the weak, but he basically betrayed when he had  a kid brutalized and accidentally killed for being weak. If your commanding officer is like him, I suggest you file for a transfer immediately before he orders you to do something that could get you court-martialed. And if transfer wasn’t an option, you might want to opt for a dishonorable discharge on insubordination since the most popular court-martial defense is “I was just following orders.”

12. John Milton

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From: The Devil’s Advocate

Occupation: Attorney

The Problem: He’s basically Satan and technically evil. Also, corruption, murder, and nepotism.

The aptly named John Milton is basically the devil in the flesh in this 1997 film in which he runs a corrupt, high-powered, and multinational New York City legal office with global connections called Milton, Chadwick & Waters which is composed of immoral humans and his own demons. Of course, many of these lawyers they also happen to be his kids to all kinds of women he raped, including Kevin Lomax himself. And he hopes that his kids would mate with each other and produce the Antichrist. However, he’s not above bringing out the worst in his legal employees and his influence has Kevin transform from a simple country lawyer to a highly corrupt and morally dissolute New York City attorney that would make the cast of Boston Legal seem like a church choir. And as for Lomax, working for the devil, he becomes engulfed in demonic forces that ruin his career and drives his wife to madness and suicide. Oh, and he uses his legal firm to exploit the legal system to get as many violent criminals off the hook and spread corruption all over the world, hoping that Earth would become such a perversion that it will hurt Heaven and God. Also, tends to kill any of his employees who threaten to expose him. Basically he’s a literal boss from hell.

13. Patrick Bateman

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From: American Psycho

Occupation: Wall Street Investment Banker and Corporate Executive

The Problem: He’s an absolutely competitive and a complete psycho with rather disturbing fantasies. Also has a lot of addictions and is inflicted with conspicuous consumption.

Sure he may be played by Christian Bale and seem rather charismatic and friendly with a taste in designer clothes. However, as to why anyone would want to work for him or with him is anyone’s guess. And it doesn’t help that his gay colleague and his secretary are both in love with him. Bateman has the distinction as one of the most believable psychopaths in film and has scored hire on the APD/sociopathy checklist than the Joker or Hannibal Lecter. To put a long story short, Bateman is a rich, shallow, yuppie type who’s addicted to sex, drugs, and conspicuous consumption. Yet, he has another hobby on the side which is killing (and sometimes raping) people whether it be colleagues, prostitutes, or the homeless. Also, he could kill his colleagues (or subordinates) for some of the stupidest reasons whether it be over a business deal nobody knows about in detail, having a better business card than him, and being able to get a reservation at a popular restaurant. Oh, and he’s willing to sarcastically confess his crimes and sociopathy to fellow colleagues which nobody seems to take seriously. And he tries to murder his secretary with a nail gun when she finds a journal depicting his grisly rapes and murders. I’d rather be unemployed than work for such a racist, sexist, homophobic, and extremely elitist selfish killing machine. This is especially true if he’s a fan of Huey Lewis & the News.

14. Meredith Johnson

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From: Disclosure

Occupation: Corporate Executive

The Problem: Sexual harassment, abuse of power, attempted rape, and backstabbing.

Despite being played by Demi Moore, Meredith Johnson is the worst boss you’d ever want to be involved in a relationship with, especially if you’re her ex Tom Sanders. Right from the time she’s promoted to CEO of DigiCom (a job that Tom probably should’ve had), Meredith aggressively tries to resume her romantic relationship with Tom despite that he’s now married family man and repeatedly turns her down. Yet, Meredith doesn’t seem to care and even forces herself on him though Tom ends up spurning her and pushing her to the ground. In revenge for not having sex wit her, Meredith tries to ruin Tom’s life and career for suing him for sexual harassment and later tries to make him a scapegoat for the recent problems with the quality of the company’s products. And for a while, it seems that Tom is screwed since nobody in his company believes what Meredith was doing to him. It’s basically what you get if the lady from Fatal Attraction was your boss, well, sort of. Still, if Tom had given in, his marriage would’ve been over and Meredith still would’ve sued him for sexual harassment anyway.

15. August Rosenbluth

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From: Water for Elephants

Occupation: Circus Owner, Ringmaster, and Head Animal Trainer

The Problem: Cruelty to animals, abuse, bullying, and intimidation.

He may seem charming and kind at first but he has a vicious streak a mile wide. This guy is an animal slave driver who’s willing to drive his four legged performers to exhaustion and injury since he believes that the suffering of animals is nothing compared what people go through. He’s not so much nicer to people since he expects his animals and employee to follow his orders to the very letter. And he’s not afraid to throw people from the train who disobey him or beat the shit out of them. Oh, and he’s possessive and physically abusive to his wife and if you try to run off with her, he’ll go to great lengths to make sure you’re dead even if he has to send two thugs to beat you up. Let’s just say, nobody wouldn’t be upset if he got trampled by an elephant on any given day.

16. E. Edward Grey

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From: Secretary

Occupation: Attorney

The Problem: Sexual harassment, taking advantage of employee’s insecurity, and abuse of power.

Now this movie is basically what 50 Shades of Grey would be as a workplace romantic comedy. Of course, E. Edward Grey may not be an abusive psycho boyfriend like Christian Grey would be, but he’s not a great guy to work for. Sure engaging in consensual BDSM may be all right but basically hiring a legal secretary for that very purpose and firing her after engaging in sexual intercourse isn’t whether having sexual insecurities or not. Of course, this is especially true if the sex was basically his idea in the first place, which is sexual harassment. And it doesn’t help that Lee Holloway had just been released from a psychiatric hospital after an episode of self-harm, which almost makes Grey seem much worse. Also, I’m not sure the power dynamic in the workplace is a great foundation for a healthy relationship in the bedroom, BDSM or not.

17. Pontius Pilate

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From: Monty Python’s Life of Brian

Occupation: Roman Governor of Judea

The Problem: To make a long story short, he’s basically an idiot who no one could take seriously, not even his employees. Also incompetence, no sense of humor, and being easily offended.

Now Pontius Pilate was a bad boss in real life as testified by Josephus as well as Philo of Alexandria and the fact that he was recalled to Rome because the Romans thought he was too brutal. Yet, to the extent he’s depicted as a jerk in the Bible and biblical movies kind of depends on interpretation. Yet, he’s portrayed as a guy reluctant to crucify Jesus in the Gospels because the writers didn’t want to depict the Roman authorities in a negative light. In Life of Brian, Pilate is basically an idiot who no one could take seriously especially since he has trouble pronouncing the letter “r” which the crowd of people goes to great lengths to ridiculously exploit just to make fun of him. The scene when the soldiers bring Brian to him is particularly relevant of his ineptness as well. It’s obvious that the guy has no sense of humor and is easily offended when his soldiers laugh whenever he mentions the name of his friend in Rome, “Bickus Dickus.” Of course, the soldiers obviously view such moniker as a joke name, a concept that Pilate has no understanding. Yet, he ends up sending one of his soldiers to gladiator school after not being able to keep himself from laughing at the name “Bickus Dickus” which seems pretty harsh. Still, Pilate’s foolishness and lack of any sense of humor basically keeps the Roman soldiers from doing their jobs and inadvertently helps Brian escape.

18. Daniel Plainview

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From: There Will Be Blood

Occupation: Oil Industrialist and Tycoon

The Problem: Workplace endangerment, abuse of power, disdain for humanity, alcoholism, bullying, corruption, murder, and others.

Of course, this movie is about the contention between two guys the audience will despise but at least the self-centered religious preacher has nobody working for him even if he bullies his dad and manipulates his flock and ultimately sells his soul to Daniel Plainview in the end. Daniel Plainview, on the other hand, may be a determined boozy miner who just wants to earn a living or basically do whatever it takes to get a buck even if it means stepping on everyone he needed to in order to advance his own goals as well as exploit everyone in the film with a speaking role. Yet, he’s indifferent to life and has no qualms about cheating folks in California who basically work like oxes and give him oil to sell. Too bad for them, a few of them fall victim to occupational hazard including Plainview’s adopted son H. W. who goes deaf by the sound of an oil well. Of course, you can bet that these workers’ families won’t get much compensation as far as Plainview is concerned. He also personally kills a few people, abandons his son who… failed him, takes general pleasure and dominating everyone, and perceives the world as much more evil than he is. Still, Plainview can’t care less about those who work for him and bring him wealth and is willing to fake care through his manipulation to outright bullying. And even his adopted son H. W. is seen is merely a prop to him that he uses to create a pretty face to help him make business deals. Let’s just say, you don’t want to work for this guy, especially when he starts to lose his sanity.

19. Jonathan Shields

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From: The Bad and the Beautiful

Occupation: Movie Producer and Studio Mogul

The Problem: Forming relationships with employees whom he’s perfectly willing to use as tools that can be disposed of. Also, tries to toy with his workers’ personal lives just so he could make a movie. Not to mention, he’s kind of a perfectionist, control freak, and backstabber to the max.

Jonathan Shields loves movies and loves making them though he cares more about the quality of his films than his human relationships. In fact, he basically uses his relationships as a means to an end, whether it means being buddies with a director when they were first starting out, hooking up with an actress she wants in his film so she won’t spend her spare time drinking or sleeping with other men, and taking a screenwriter on vacation with him so the guy won’t have to be distracted by his wife while he’s writing. Yet, once he’s done with them, he ends up basically stabbing them in the back whether it be by denying his director buddy a chance to make the film of his dreams, having his girlfriend walk in when he’s screwing another actress after celebrating her success at the premiere after party, and not telling his screenwriter that he inadvertently left the guy’s wife run off with an actor that later leads to them both dying in a plane crash. Sure he screwed these three people to the ground leaving no small wounds, but all three were better off achieved greater success because of him. Of course, you can basically call Jonathan Shields an unpolished turd with the Midas touch yet even if he did help your career, you’d still be bitter of how he hurt your feelings by screwing you over.

20. General Boulard and General Mireau

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From: Paths of Glory

Occupation: Generals in the French Army

The Problem: Basically these two guys are disconnected from the reality of the trenches and basically ordering what amounts to a suicide mission. Punish a whole regiment by having 3 soldiers shot at random for cowardice. Also, abuse of power and inability to take responsibility for their failures.

World War I was a terrible war with many losses resulting in the upper brasses disconnect with what the soldiers are really facing and the deadly results it led to. In fact, Mireau basically doesn’t believe that there’s such a thing as PTSD as well as orders his artillery to bomb their own trenches and that both of these guys are staying in fine housing accommodations while anyone who’s not a general is basically having to reside in vermin infested quarters. These two generals are basically epitomes of this when they order Colonel Dax and his regiment to attack the Anthill which is a suicide mission, a fact that’s apparent to every soldier in the regiment. Yet, when Dax’s soldiers’ common sense overrides their willingness to obey orders during the actual attack, these two guys refuse to acknowledge their responsibility just to save face and preserve their quest for personal glory. In fact, they basically punish Colonel Dax’s regiment by having three of his soldiers court-martialed and executed for cowardice by firing squad. Of course, the two generals have made sure that the court-martial is a kangaroo trial and that these three condemned men are doomed to die for no reason at all.

21. Lord Raglan, Lord Lucan, and Lord Cardigan

From: The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)

Occupation: Generals in the British Army and Aristocratic Peers

The Problem: These three guys are incompetent upper class twits, inability to work together, have no concern for their men, and other factors that led a major miscommunication and one of the biggest military disasters of all time.

Now these three guys were just as bad bosses in real life as they are in this movie due to the systematic problem that these guys basically purchased their own commissions. Yet, while Raglan is the least worst of the bunch he’s more or less incompetent who was just promoted beyond his ability yet ordering Lord Cardigan to lead the Charge of the Light Brigade and promoting Lord Lucan over him weren’t very good ideas. Yes, they were brothers-in-law but they absolutely detested each other and neither were very bright in the least. Seriously, Cardigan was described by historians as, “an overbearing, hot-tempered fool of the most dangerous kind in that he believed that he possessed real ability.” In the movie, Cardigan also tends to treat his troops like personal property. And when Lucan received Raglan’s order, he basically ordered Cardigan to charge his men through a gauntlet of fire to capture the guns at the far end of the valley. The result was that the Light Brigade was driven off by overwhelming enemy numbers and they retreated through the same way they charged leading to 278 British casualties and nothing accomplished. Oh, and right after the charge, Cardigan basically has lunch on his yacht and tells the survivors that the disaster wasn’t his fault. So there you have it, the Charge of the Light Brigade was a disaster due to incompetence, mutual jealousy, and miscommunication between these three guys who make desertion seem like a viable option if any of them were your commanding officer.

22. Tony Stark (a. k. a. Iron Man)

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From: The Iron Man Series

Occupation: Billionaire, Superhero, Tycoon, Inventor, and Philanthropist

The Problem: Egotistical, high maintenance, immature, selfish, and basically has his assistant do everything.

If you think having Iron Man as your boss would be cool, then prepare to be disillusioned if you’re hired to be his personal assistant. Stark is basically a big baby with a huge ego and lots of expensive toys who’s horribly dependent on Pepper Potts for basically everything from running his company, organizing his schedule, making excuses for him, installing a personal arc reactor to keep his heart beating every once in a while, and calling the contractor every time Stark blows up his workshop. Pepper Potts may have a job that pays well, but unfortunately this means her whole life basically revolves around Tony Stark and basically has no time for anything else. Also, her job must be incredibly stressful and bound to drive any normal person insane. Tony must be lucky that he has such a dedicated assistant willing to put up with all his hijinks and activities simply out of being in love for him. Yet, how she manages to keep Tony’s life in order while being able to retain her appearance and take proper care of herself, I have no idea.

23. Miranda Priestly

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From: The Devil Wears Prada

Occupation: Editor in Chief for a Fashion Magazine

The Problem: Demanding, abrasive, verbally abusive, and being a major control freak.

Working in fashion must be one of the most nightmarish fields for most women, especially since it’s one that’s shallow and pertains to ridiculous clothing. Compared to other bosses on the list, Miranda isn’t as bad as many of the bosses on the list. I mean she’s not physically abusive, gets people killed, commits crimes, or sexually harasses her employees. Also, she’s perfectly capable of doing her job. Yet, she’s a real pain in the ass who terrorizes and insults most of her staff, including Andy Sachs. She is a major control freak who oversees every aspect of the magazine at every stage of production and thinks nothing of turning everyone else’s schedule around while micro-managing her own. She also likes to use Andy as a punching bag by hurling insults at her about her weight, criticizing her writing, and assigning her to do impossible tasks which greatly takes a toll on her personal life. And she also seems to take positive relish in it. It’s a wonder why people are willing to work for her and not go insane. Also doesn’t tolerate anyone who disagrees with her.

24. Calvin Candie

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From: Django Unchained

Occupation: Planter

The Problem: He’s a sadistic slave owner who has his charges fight for the death for his own enjoyment as well as having a slave being murdered by dogs as well as other dastardly deeds. Also, racism and intimidation.

Slavery was a brutal institution that put blacks as inferior to whites as well as be seen as having no rights of their own and doomed to involuntary servitude. It wasn’t unusual for a slave owner to be an abusive rapist as well as torture his or her slaves on a regular basis. Still, while he may be played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Candie may seem charming at first but he’s actually a sadist who seems to inflict violence on his slaves for a lot more reasons than just keeping them in line. In fact, he seems to be very insensitive to it and seems to get pleasure in seeing two slaves fight each other to the death or casually letting a slave unwilling to fight get torn apart by dogs, which sickens even the most hardened bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Still, he’s a complete monster even by slave owner standards and Candyland is basically a plantation of horrors. Let’s just say that slave owners would’ve thought twice about having their own slaves fight each other or having a runaway ripped apart by dogs, especially since they were substantial financial investments. Putting slaves in gladiatorial battles just wouldn’t make any sense to an antebellum slave owner. You could see why King Schultz had to shoot him in the chest when Candie offered to shake his hand.

25. Idi Amin

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From: The Last King of Scotland

Occupation: Military Dictator of Uganda

The Problem: Basically he’s a ruthless dictator who was responsible for killing as many as 500,000 people. Robbing his countrymen and not taking being cheated on well despite having 3 wives. Also being batshit insane.

Working for a dictator is no fun at all. In fact, dictators make really terrible bosses in general, especially if he goes by the name of Josef Stalin. Idi Amin is no different and though he may seem charming at first but remember this is one of the more notorious African dictators as well as responsible for genocide during his 8 year rule of Uganda. Also, he’s one of the few famous dictators to have a feature film about his rule which is depicted so menacingly. By sharing his love of Scotland being impressed at his ability to shoot a cow, he manages to charm Nicholas Garrigan into becoming his personal physician and help modernize Uganda’s health care system.. Yet, working for a genocidal dictator has a lot of strings attached such as having to rationalize your boss’s crackdown of the opposition and expelling South Asians out of the country. Also, the fact that Garrigan can’t keep it in his pants and ends up knocking up one of Amin’s wives. Still, let’s just say you don’t want to work for a guy who isn’t above beating you up or hanging you up on a meat hook by your skin, no less. Let’s just say I’d rather work for Darth Vader than this guy.

Willy Wonka and the Workplace Violations Report

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Recently we have received a number of complaints by visitors of the Golden Ticket Tour at Mr. Wonka’s confectionery factory. For personal reasons, all of the complainants have wished to remain anonymous. Mr. Wonka has a reputation for secrecy and no one has entered or left his factory in the last ten years, yet he continues to produce his confectionery products sold worldwide.  Mr. Wonka has been suspected for dubious business practices for quite some time and these complaints provide a unique insight in how Mr. Wonka runs his factory, which have been very useful in our investigation. It has come to our attention that he may be accused of possible workplace violations, using an illegal workforce, and misconduct to children, yet this needs to be studied further. Here is a violations that have been reported by the complainants from the Golden Ticket Tour and other anonymous individuals:

 

I. Health and Safety

1. Safety concerns pertaining to Mr. Wonka’s facility:

a. Chocolate river has no safety rail and leads to a grinding machine via pipes.

b. Chocolate river boat has no safety rail either which caused a visitor to fall in the chocolate river while trying to consume its contents.

c. Nut Sorting Room has a gaping hole in the middle which leads straight to a garbage incinerator.

d. Great Glass Elevator smashes through a room.

e. New equipment has resulted significant mishaps such as one growing too much hair required the assistance of a lawn mower, one being turned into giant blueberries, one floating off into space, and a number of them being shrunk to fit on a small screen.

f. TV Room has a teleporter that could shrink anything to an inch so they could fit on a screen.

g. Whenever such similar mishaps befell any of the visitors during the Golden Ticket Tour, witnesses testify that you discussed rather bizarre solutions as if they were standard safety procedures that included:

i. Being compressed through an unknown procedure in the Fudge Room to get unstuck from a pipe after falling into the Chocolate River which resulted in the visitor exiting the facility as extremely thin and/or perhaps covered in chocolate.

ii. After being transformed into a blueberry, one visitor was restored through a juicing process yet was left permanently purple and absurdly flexible.

iii. Two visitors almost faced certain death in a garbage incinerator after falling from a gaping hole in the Nut Sorting Room. Both emerged from facility covered in garbage.

iv. After being shrunk in the TV Room, one visitor was stretched by a taffy puller which resulted in leaving the facility 10 ft tall but almost paper thin.

h. Mr. Wonka is a known recluse and his factory designed as a maze of differing rooms, mazes, spaces, and experiences. Visitors from the Golden Ticket Tour reported that it was hard to know what was coming around the next corner and a lot of them had trouble finding the exit besides the front door afterwards.

2. Health concerns pertaining to Mr. Wonka’s facility:

a. Labor force was not seen in appropriate attire when handling any edible products according to one Golden Ticket Tour visitor who owns a factory of his own. He particularly noted seeing the workforce handle any edible products without wearing hairnets or gloves.

b. Same visitor also expressed doubts on whether the workers washed their hands or whether any of the facilities were regularly kept up to sanitary conditions.

c. Liquid chocolate was stored in a subterranean river system that left the substance at risk of exposure to contamination for a considerable length of time. Same goes for the other candy products in the Chocolate Room, which many of Golden Ticket Tour visitors touched with their bare hands. On the Golden Ticket Tour, Mr. Wonka took his visitors boat ride on the chocolate river in which one fell in while trying to consume its contents. It is not known whether Mr. Wonka ever ordered his workers to dispose of the chocolate.

 

II. Labor

1. Labor concerns pertaining to Mr. Wonka’s facility:

a. One former employee who was at the factory during the Golden Ticket Tour testified that he spontaneously had his entire paying workforce laid off due to an issues in industrial espionage. Judging that the former employee was previously living in squalid conditions, saving up money from public assistance to buy his grandson a candy bar, and is cared for by of one of his children, it is highly unlikely any of Mr. Wonka’s former employees received compensation or worker’s pension. Though he has no bad feelings for Mr. Wonka and has now moved into the factory with his family since the Golden Ticket Tour, he still feels the need to acknowledge this since many of Mr. Wonka’s former employees still express bitterness over the situation.

b. Same former employee also said that after the layoff, Mr. Wonka had his paid workforce replaced by a large number of undocumented immigrants from some obscure Third World country that is not officially recognized status under the United States government and one even the geography teacher in the Golden Ticket Tour has never even heard of. It can be fair to say that none of them have any authorization to work in this country nor could provide any documentation.

c. Mr. Wonka has been reported to openly admit that he pays these undocumented employees in nothing but cacao beans. Yet, he says he does provide comfortable housing facilities for them, though we are not sure about their diets.

d. Though Mr. Wonka says his workers are happy at his factory, it is unknown whether he actually allows them to come and go as they please since there has never been anyone entering or exiting the facility in ten years. Then again, owing to his workers’ undocumented status, it does not appear they have much of a choice. Their strong fears about deportation should also be taken into account.

e. Mr. Wonka said that his current employees originate from a faraway place known as Loompaland, which was filled with carnivorous beasts who preyed on them. He says that these Oompa Loompas see him as some benefactor and that living and working in his factory for cacao beans is not much of a sacrifice to them. Yet, we only have his word for it since all they have been seen doing by the Golden Ticket Tour visitors consisted of producing candy, being test subjects in his experiments, drinking alcoholic beverages while on the job, and suddenly bursting into song and dance routines whenever there was a mishap involving four of the Golden Ticket recipients.

f. It has been witnessed that Mr. Wonka uses his workers to test for side effects in his confectionery, sometimes with severe and possibly fatal results though he does what he can to rescue them when such tests go awry.

g. Some have said that a few of the design ideas at Mr. Wonka’s factory have come from a few of his staff members themselves, though we are sure he usually takes the credit.

 

III. Food Safety

1. Judging by the Golden Ticket Tour visitors’ testimonies, we find the safety of some of Mr. Wonka’s products questionable to put on the market. These consist of:

a. Fizzy Lifting Drinks which are soft drinks that make people fly. Fortunately, they could descend through belching on this one despite that one Golden Ticket recipient and his grandfather were almost killed by a fan while on one of these.

b. Three Course Dinner Chewing Gum that turns its consumers into large blueberries once they get to dessert. Even if juiced, the victims remain purple forever and sometimes gain flexibility in their skeletal system.

c. Confectionery products being stored in unsanitary conditions and open for contamination.

d. Everlasting Gobstoppers which are said to never get smaller no matter how long someone sucks on them.

e. Ice cream that always stays cold and does not melt in the sun.

f. Staff handling confectionery without proper attire and possibly without observing basic hygiene.

g. Rainbow drops that people could suck and spit in six different colors.

h. Hair Toffee, a candy that causes excessive hair growth on both hair and chin (even on women). Major side effect for consumers includes having to use landscaping equipment to maintain their hair from then on.

i. Exploding Candy.

2. Mr. Wonka has yet to release a list of ingredients for many of his concoctions, many of which could contain harmful chemicals or pose dangerous side effects, particularly to children. If Mr. Wonka fails to cooperate with us, perhaps we can purchase some of these products for chemical analysis.

 

IV. Environment

1. We are not just concerned of what is in some of Mr. Wonka’s questionable products, but also whether he is using any chemicals or is properly disposing any excess waste transported out of his factory and the potential impact they may have in the surrounding community, particularly if it is a chewing gum that turns people into blueberries. We do know his factory has an incinerator but that is as much as we know about his facility’s waste disposal.

2. We are not sure what Mr. Wonka runs his machinery on or their environmental impact on the surrounding community. All we know is that he has perhaps the largest confectionery in the world which must consume a lot of energy and perhaps water. It is unknown whether Mr. Wonka has reverted to sustainable practices.

3. We suggest we test the water in the surrounding community to see whether  Mr. Wonka’s practices have any impact on public health.

 

V. Conduct with Minors

1. A while back, Mr. Wonka staged a contest to allow five lucky children into his factory by hiding five golden tickets in his chocolate bars.

2. During the Golden Ticket Tour four of the five children were involved in some dangerous situation whether it pertained to falling into a chocolate river and getting stuck in a pipe, getting turned into a blueberry while chewing an experimental gum, falling through a gaping hole that led to a garbage incinerator, and getting shrunk by a teleporter.

3. Despite what happened to these four children, Mr. Wonka has not issued an apology for the life changing trauma they went through at his factory. Rather he states that these children were spoiled brats who refused to listen to his warnings and have nobody but themselves to blame causing some to believe he steered them in to such trouble to scare them straight.

4. Mr. Wonka has also declined to give compensation to any of these four children and their families on account that he viewed their parents as indulging to their child’s every whim and should probably try being better parents. Has been known to politely discourage others from questioning him, including the parents. The parents have decided to sue for damages.

5. Apparently, Mr. Wonka seems to be either calm or amused to see children suffer under perilous conditions whether it is through a spectromatic boat tunnel that many of the Golden Ticket Tour visitors found rather scary or all the previous fates of four children he sees as “teaching a lesson” that boundaries should be respected.

 

VI. Mr. Wonka’s Character

1. In this investigation, we find Mr. Wonka as an enigmatic figure who has a problem with transparency, has more concern for his candy than human beings, and has no regard for industrial safety procedures whatsoever. He never thinks about what he put his former workers through or any impact he has upon the local community, the environment, or public health.

2. Mr. Wonka is a very rich man has not released his financial records for several years and it is unknown whether he actually pays taxes. He also has yet to disclose the names of those who supply him with raw materials or whether he pays them. Given his reputation as a one of the richest recluses in the world, Mr. Wonka fails to realize that transparency is the rule when running an industrial establishment.

3. Mr. Wonka fails to understand that to run an industrial workplace, particularly a confectionery, maintaining a clean and safe workplace are top priorities. While it is perfectly fine for Mr. Wonka to design his workplace as a creative playground, health and safety in the workplace should always come first whether that means having guard rails, having workers wash their hands and cover their hair, and making the facility easily navigable for workers and visitors. Mr. Wonka has ignored these.

4. Mr. Wonka also does not seem to understand that all food items should be stored in sanitary conditions and free from contamination. This means that all of his confectionery ingredients should be stored in sealed containers and not exposed to the open air. Who knows what the contents in the Chocolate Room have been exposed to.

5. Mr. Wonka does not see anything wrong with child endangerment whether it pertains to his products and factory equipment. In fact, he sees nothing wrong with releasing certain products that contain potentially harmful chemicals.

6. One visitor remarked that he mentioned the word “snozzberry” during a stop pertaining to flavored wall paper. The only definition our investigation managed to find for this word was a British slang term for penis.

7. Mr. Wonka does not see any reason to have his factory or policies structured to meet confectionery regulations.

 

VII. Response

1. That in evaluating these complaints from the Golden Ticket visitors and others, we continue our thorough investigation into Mr. Wonka’s activities by inspecting the facilities in question to determine whether there is any truth behind their complaints. If their testimonies prove accurate than it is with all due respect that we give time for Mr. Wonka to meet regulations or else face criminal charges for health and safety violations, food safety violations, workplace misconduct, hiring an undocumented workforce, environmental damage, lack of transparency, and child endangerment.

2. But first it would best to notify Mr. Wonka of the charges he may be up against and our intended actions during the investigation as well as inform him on what he should do to avoid arrest. Yet, even if he does conform to workplace regulations, this does not mean he is immune to lawsuits and criminal prosecution. Also, note that he designated the lone unharmed Golden Ticket recipient as his heir who is ten years old. Thus, Mr. Wonka might have been expecting this.