Day laborers get jacked
October 30, 2010 § 2 Comments
NEWARK — An honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. An American value. Except when those cheated out of pay are the current scapegoats for many, if not all, of the nation’s problems. Immigrant workers. “In a sense, it’s a real test of whether we mean what we say when we start mouthing platitudes,” says Bryan Lonegan, a faculty member at Seton Hall Law School in Newark. He and his students recently issued a report showing immigrant day laborers gathering in Newark every morning are regularly cheated by employers. The report deals specifically with some 50 laborers who show up each morning near a Route 1 underpass in Newark’s East Ward. They are regularly chased by the police when local business owners complain, but they still congregate there. Each day, employers hire a few people for their landscaping, construction, or other businesses. The going rate is about $10 an hour, cash. In the true spirit of unfettered capitalism, management meets labor without interference of government regulation. The market might work for employers, he says, but not for the workers. Lonegan and his law students found: More than three-quarters of workers were paid less than promised. More than 60 percent were not paid at all at the end of a work day. More than 80 percent were not paid overtime, as required by state and federal law, when they worked more than 40 hours a week. More than 80 percent reported they rarely, if ever, use safety equipment.