NEO-LIBERALS IN MARYLAND REALLY HATE WORKERS!
This rally in Annapolis was a powerful event. The number of people coming to these rallies are growing and the general public is waking up and joining. We thank workers who risks their jobs and retribution from employers to stand with unions as we rebuild Maryland's labor laws and protections.
Low-wage is not only a problem for those not finishing school or going for higher education. It is happening to all workers no matter the degrees. Remember, neo-liberals intend to create in the US what corporations had in third world countries and professionals earn little more than those impoverished at the bottom pay scale. Doctor, lawyer, and Indian Chief earn next to nothing in third world countries. It is the middle-class that has the power of voice and money to fight this and must stand with all citizens. Remember,
AN INJUSTICE FOR ONE WILL BECOME AN INJUSTICE FOR ALL!
I want to shout out as well that labor and justice need to take the status of public private partnership to court as an illegal entity. In this one case of the BWI workers and AirMall....you have a publicly owned airport run by Maryland Transportation Authority allowing private corporate national chains to act illegally. They are allowing as well for those employees not to be paid what should be a public employee wage and benefit. You see, if the government owns the property then the rules of the state need to apply. The idea that the state and localities are going to get away from protecting employees with these private partnerships and indeed, actually work to exploit these employees because it brings more money into government coffers all while protecting AirMall from corporate taxes is illegal.
MARYLAND CITIZENS MUST NOT ALLOW A GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE THAT SEEKS NOT ONLY TO IMPOVERISH AND EXPLOIT CITIZENS FOR ITS OWN REVENUES WHILE PROTECTING CORPORATIONS FROM PAYING THEIR FAIR SHARE......BUT, AT THE SAME TIME THESE PARTNERSHIP STRUCTURES TAKE AWAY PUBLIC TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY-----WHICH IS THE POINT OF PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS.
If taken to court I feel certain that this status will/should be found illegal. It will have to be taken outside of Maryland because Maryland courts have been stacked with corporate judges by O'Malley.
Rally and March in Annapolis
Public · By Unite Here Local 7
- Thursday, March 13, 2014
- Asbury United Methodist Church 87 West Street, Annapolis Maryland
- Join us as we stand in solidariy with workers at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Busses will leave from Unite Here Local 7 offices at 1800 North Charles Street at 10 a.m. Rally will begin at Asbury United Methodist church located at 87 West Street, Annapolis, Maryland followed by a march to Lawyer's Mall.
Why are we marching?
Non-tipped concessions workers a BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport earn a median wage of $8.50 per hour. Only 17% of surveyed workers reported that they received health insurance through their jobs. Only 10% of surveyed workers reported that they received paid sick day. The lowest paid employees of the Maryland Aviation Authority receive $13.45 per hour. They are guaranteed health insurance, paid sick days, and a pension.
The Thurgood Marshall Equal Pay Act creates a waqe equity supplement whereby the state of Mayland will temporarily make up the difference between the wages of concessions workers and those of the lowest-paid employees of the Maryland Aviation Authority.
Join us as we march towards equality at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.
Many, many thanks to all of the 300+ of you who came out to our march today! We had a wonderful and inspiring day. More photos to come. — at Maryland State House.
First, we need to acknowledge that the Maryland and local government structural budget deficits are created by massive corporate fraud and corruption and corporate welfare in the form of corporate tax breaks......it has nothing to do with public services, public employees, and public programs.
That said, we want to remind these public union leaders that 1/2 of pension value was lost to pension fraud in the 2007 economic collapse. Throwing pensions from the then safety of the bond market into an imploding stock market in 2007 to collapsing buoy big banks is public malfeasance and corporate fraud. It was intentional and it was duplicitous.
UNION LAWYERS NEED TO GET THAT 1/2 VALUE LOST TO FRAUD BACK ALONG WITH ALL THE GAINS THOSE FUNDS WOULD HAVE HAD IN THIS PAST BULL MARKET.
O'Malley has underfunded and defunded pensions from his tenure as Mayor of Baltimore. It is no secret that he does not intend on public sector workers getting much if any of those promised and contracted benefits, whether pensions or health care. Public sector unions had better know their health plans will be thrown into these private state health systems and will be worth whatever tier an employee can pay....for city and state employees who do not make much.....that will be Medicaid or Bronze at best....both mostly preventative care.
This game that Maryland media and government officials play with union leaders has two goals: First, by threatening unions with loss of union rights or future wage increases the intent is to make the unions concede to bade deals. DEMOCRATIC POLS WOULD NOT DO THAT! Second, by announcing that union leaders knew of this deal that hurt its membership it undermines confidence in unions and their leadership. This is deliberate. Finally, when union leaders feel they must support the same politicians who place them in these positions-----they endanger the future of unions in Maryland. So, to take the pressure off of unions and leadership to allow them to do the right thing for their membership
THE CITIZENS OF MARYLAND MUST RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE CANDIDATES SO LABOR WILL HAVE FRIENDLY POLITICIANS AND GOVERNMENT APPOINTEES IN OFFICE. WAKE UP-----WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THESE LABOR GROUPS WILL COME TO YOU UPPER- MIDDLE-CLASS MARYLANDERS!
Union leaders have to stop this race to the bottom and run their own candidates in primaries. Labor cannot support neo-liberals who are killing them!
THAT'S A NEO-LIBERAL FOR YOU AND ALL MARYLAND POLS ARE NEO-LIBERALS!
Unions, pension board unhappy O’Malley cut $100M in promised payment to retirement fund
January 17, 2014 at 6:58 am
By Len Lazarick
IMarch 15, 2011, Alvin Thornton (in suit) and union leaders head march to State House.
The largest unions representing state workers and public school teachers are upset at Gov. Martin O’Malley’s decision to permanently cut $100 million from extra payments into the state pension system. The money came from additional employee salary deductions required by a 2011 pension reform, and was intended to help cure underfunding in the pension system.
The Board of Trustees of the State Retirement and Pension System, headed by State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, is also opposed to reducing the promised $300 million payment down to $200 million. This delays the goal of funding of the state pensions system at 80% by a full year, from 2024 to 2025. The pension system was 100% funded 12 years ago, but 80% is the accepted standard for public systems.
MarylandReporter.com raised the issue at the governor’s news conference on his proposed budget Wednesday. O’Malley had not mentioned cutting the pension payment in his presentation, even though it is listed as the largest spending reduction he is proposing to balance next year’s budget.
After his explanation of the change, O’Malley was specifically asked if the public employee unions had signed off on the reduction. The video of the Jan. 15 news conference shows O’Malley turning to Chief of Staff John Griffin and Budget Secretary Eloise Foster, and both nod their heads indicating the unions had agreed. (The video is in the video library under Jan. 15, 2014 and the exchange takes place around minute 41.)
Unions unaware of the change
Looking west from the State House steps, thousands fill Lawyer’s Mall, Bladen Street and Rowe Boulevard for the “Keep the Promise” rally against pension changes in 2011.
On Thursday, representatives of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Maryland State Education Association told a reporter that they were not aware of the $100 million cut in this year’s pension payment. The union representatives also seemed totally unaware that O’Malley wanted to make the cut permanent by changing the law in the Budget Reconciliation and Financing Act of 2014 (page 11) that he introduced Wednesday to implement the budget.
“AFSCME members don’t agree with the state’s decision to underfund pension contributions,” said Patrick Moran, president of AFSCME Maryland. “We’re hopeful the state will balance its budget and make its pensions contributions — just like state employees do every year.”
But the permanent cut is exactly what Foster recommended in a report sent Wednesday to the budget committees and the Joint Committee on Pensions.
Foster’s report also includes the position of the pension board; it “strongly recommends” that the state continue to make the $300 million payment.
The board said the savings achieved by restructuring benefits should be plowed back into the pension system, which is currently only about 65% funded.
“It should be noted that of the total $300 million reinvestment, approximately two-thirds is a result of the fact that the reforms increased employee contributions,” the board said.
The 2011 pension reform legislation, which O’Malley pointed out caused “the largest public employee protest” of his administration, raised employee contributions from 5% to 7% of salary.
Cut made to balance budget, reduce structural deficit
At Wednesday’s budget rollout, from right, Gov. Martin O’Malley, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Budget Secretary Eloise Foster, Chief of Staff John Griffin.
O’Malley said the proposed cut in pension payment was “due to more favorable actuarial forecasts.” But Foster’s report makes clear the motivation was to balance the budget this year and “improve budget sustainability by reducing the structural deficit.”
The cut in the pension payment will save the state $1.2 billion over the next five years. The state has not making its full annual required contribution established by the outside actuaries for more than a decade. Only last year did it approve a change to the funding method to address the shortfall.
The $300 million cap on reinvestment of pension savings was controversial in 2011 at the time the pension changes were passed. The teachers union wanted even more money put back into the system.
As I listened this morning to corporate WYPR regarding the fact that Maryland has one of the highest immigrant arrest by ICE and that 43% of the arrests involved people with no criminal background I waited for just one word of acknowledgement that immigrants in Maryland are being fleeced of their wages and abused in the workplace. NOT ONE WORD.
MARYLAND MEDIA WANTS TO SHOW CONCERN FOR IMMIGRANTS WITH THE IDEA OF 'TRUSTING' POLICE WHILE THEY ARE BEING EXPLOITED AND ABUSED IN THE WORKPLACE.
The reason Maryland media does this is that they want more immigrants to come to Maryland to be fleeced and abused to enrich the corporations committing these crimes. Nothing hurts a corporate policy of luring immigrants to work to abuse them then reports of arrests and harassment by ICE.
THE CITIZENS OF MARYLAND ARE DEMANDING THAT NEO-LIBERALS IN THIS STATE STOP IGNORING THE FACT THAT LOW-WAGE WORKERS, BOTH IMMIGRANT AND DOMESTIC ARE OPENLY FLEECED OF THEIR WAGES JUST AS IF THEY WORKED IN A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY!
At the same time, Immigrant Justice groups must stop supporting the very politicians allowing this abuse. Neo-liberals passing the Dream Act or Immigration Reform are doing it for Trans Pacific Trade Deal agreements, not to protect and help immigrants here now. TPP allows ever growing numbers of high-skilled immigrants and their families will have the money to go to universities in Maryland......most domestic immigrants will not as all they earn is stolen. Dream Act is directed at future high-skilled immigrants. Most immigrants already in America will, like low-wage Americans, be funneled through vocational tracking and job training community colleges. This is not an American Dream, believe me.
The Senate's Immigration Bill is tied to TPP too. It is market-based and designed not only to flood the high-skilled market with immigrant workers.....but it allows growing numbers of third world immigrants to be brought to the US and exploited just as they would be in that third world country. Immigrants already in the US will be pushed into an even more abusive work environment if that is even imaginable.
NEO-LIBERALS WORK FOR WEALTH AND PROFIT AT THE EXPENSE OF LABOR AND JUSTICE.....STOP ALLOWING A NEO-LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHOOSE YOUR CANDIDATES. RUN LABOR AND JUSTICE IN ALL PRIMARY ELECTIONS TO SHAKE THE NEO-LIBERALS OUT OF THE PARTY!
Immigrants in America now have to know that the democratic party IS the party of the people. It has simply been hijacked by corporate politicians that need to go.
The PJC’s Immigrants’ Rights Project seeks to protect and expand the rights of low-wage and poverty-stricken immigrants in Maryland. We are concerned with wage theft, consumer law issues, housing abuses and want to ensure that immigrants have access to state courts, programs and agencies.
Wage Theft Shatters American Dream for Many Low-Income Immigrants Wage theft in the United States has reached near epidemic levels among low-wage workers.
Korean immigrant workers, represented by AALDEF, held a protest with supporters against abusive employment practices at a New Jersey restaurant in April, 2010."
- December 27, 2011
Eight years ago, “Mrs. Kim” came to the United States from China “to pursue her American Dream,” but thanks to unscrupulous business practices familiar to many Asian immigrants working in low-wage industries, things went horribly wrong.
Kim, who did not want to use her real name because she is still involved in litigation, began life in the U.S. preparing dumplings and side dishes at a Korean restaurant in Bergen County, New Jersey.
The job went well for a few years. It was hard, but Kim was getting paid for her efforts.
“When I first started working, [the owner] agreed to pay me $600 per week,” she said. “Specific hours were not indicated, but she did indicate I would have to work over 12 hours per day.”
Though she worked as many as 17 hours a day, when the restaurant’s business started to decline, the owner began paying employees late or not paying them at all.
Kim is suing her former boss for more than $40,000 in minimum and overtime wages that have been withheld and additional liquidated damages.
“Wage and labor laws are designed to cover every worker. Immigration doesn’t come into it. But that’s not what we’ve seen in Asian-American communities,” said Shirley Lin, an attorney with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), who has taken Kim’s case. “We’ve seen employers push them to the extreme with long hours and abusive practices.”
Lin said that employers in these kinds of situations often threaten to report the employee to immigration authorities if they challenge the abuse.
She said Asian immigrant workers in low-wage industries, like their Latino, African-American and Caucasian counterparts, are susceptible to wage theft for a variety of reasons, including language barriers, fear of deportation and a lack of education about their rights.
Wage theft in the United States has reached near epidemic levels among low-wage workers, according to a landmark 2008 national survey of nearly 4,000 low-wage workers in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.
Seventy percent of the workers surveyed were foreign-born.
The survey, which was conducted by the Center for Urban Economic Development, the National Employment Law Project, and the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, found over two-thirds of low-wage workers experienced “at least one pay-related violation” in the work week reported.
Furthermore, 26 percent of workers were paid less than the legal minimum wage; 76 percent of employees who worked overtime were not paid the legally required overtime rate; 70 percent of workers who performed work outside of their regular shifts did not receive any pay for this work; and 30 percent of tipped workers were not paid the tipped minimum wage.
Lacking an income, Kim said she was forced to borrow money from friends and not pay bills just to survive.
“They’re making employees suffer,” Kim said. “If you can’t run a business and pay your employees, you shouldn’t run a business. You shouldn’t take advantage of workers like this.”
She is now working at another restaurant and said she’s extremely stressed and tired from her experience with her former employer.
“I can’t sleep at night. It’s affecting my future employment because I’m not as strong. I’ve cried many tears over this employer.”
Paying the Boss
There is an added dimension to Kim’s struggles.
Her stress grew when her previous boss began pressuring employees to lend their money to support the business, another manifestation of wage theft, said Lin. Kim submitted, giving up around $55,000.
She said her boss would appear to pay her back by giving her postdated checks, but she was often told not to deposit them and when she did, the checks bounced.
“At the time I lent her money, I trusted her,” Kim said. “I thought she would share her success with her employees, but that’s not how it turned out. I helped her open a second restaurant. The owner became very greedy, borrowed money from employees and delayed paying our wages.”
Conning workers into giving loans is not the most common type of theft, which usually comes in the form of failure to pay, not paying required overtime wages, not paying for work required before and after a shift, or paying less than the minimum wage.
Kim, who has a husband and son back in China who she has not seen for eight years, said she sometimes regrets coming to the U.S. because of the stress caused by failing victim to, and fighting, wage theft.
"My husband has threatened to divorce me because of this,” she said. “My family wants me close to them, but because this is so important to me, I don’t want to give up.”
Kim’s is not an isolated case.
According to the survey by the Center for Urban Economic Development, Asians immigrants were the most susceptible to overtime abuse and off-the-clock violations compared to other racial groups studied.
The problem has spurred a number of groups to try to help, including Adhikaar, which assists Nepalese, and the Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association, which aims to protect Chinese immigrants from exploitation.
Lin said workers like Kim are in a “vacuum of oversight and enforcement of our labor laws.”
“Without any government oversight, it falls upon the workers to hold the line against these kinds of unscrupulous employers.”
According to Nancy J. Leppink, deputy administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), the division has increased its number of investigators. They help to enforce minimum wage, overtime pay, record-keeping, child labor and other labor laws.
This reverses a trend cited by the Government Accountability Office, which found that enforcement actions by the WHD decreased from 51,643 in 1998 to 29,584 in 2007, despite an increase in the number of worksites and employees. The number of investigators in the WHD decreased by 20 percent during this period, falling to just 732 nationwide in 2007.
“Since 2009, the WHD has hired more than 300 investigators, bringing the agency’s total to more than 1,000 investigators,” Leppink wrote in an email. “In 2011, WHD collected a record number of back wages, which totaled $224.8 million, and helped over 275,000 workers. These additional resources, coupled with WHD’s changes to how it prioritizes its work to be more strategic, have clearly revived WHD’s enforcement program on behalf of the workers in this country.”
She added that more than 600 of WHD’s investigators speak a language other than English, including Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese.
“Some of our WHD staff are fluent in many languages,” Leppink wrote. “We also have available a language interpretive service which can assist with translation in more than 170 languages.”
Room for Improvement
While Lin called these developments “laudable,” she’d said she would like to see the specifics of how these resources are allocated.
“Navigating a wage claim is extremely complex, and in some cases takes more than a year,” she said. “Telephonic access is a good step, but the critical stage of the investigation is [done] onsite and typically includes interviewing an employer who might be monolingual and employees who speak many different languages. The DOL should take proactive steps to figure out what communities are in more need of language access among its staff investigators.”
There still may be hope for wage theft victims like Kim. Some of these cases do have happy endings.
Earlier this month, three Korean chefs were able to recover nearly $40,000 in unpaid wages from a sushi restaurant after one, who had worked with AALDEF before, organized them to take action.