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Advocating the Day Laborer Fairness and Protection Act

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Elizabeth Chun Writing 39C Professor Rose Jones March 19, 2004 Advocating the Day Laborer Fairness and Protection Act As the American economy continues its eleven-year boom, employers proceed to replace standard employees with day laborers and contingent workers. However, recent studies indicate that employers have been exploiting this increasing source of cheap labor, by failing to provide standard working benefits and sufficient living wages. Barbara Ehrenreich, a well known author and journalist, discusses in her book, Nickel and Dimed, this exploitation of contingent workers and describes from personal experience, "I don't know how my coworkers survive on their wages or what they make of our hellish condition" (Ehrenreich 89). Throughout her book, Ehrenreich demonstrates how her fellow employees are forced to endure work-related injuries and poor health, while barely surviving on the below minimum wage that they make. Today, research shows that despite legal minimum wages and hour protections afforded to standard and nonstandard workers by the government, employers continue to abuse their hired labor by deducting fees and denying proper working benefits that include breaks, compensation, time off, and health insurance. As a result, the growing number of contingent workers across the country are forced to tolerate violations of their civil rights, employment and labor rights, and health and safety rights (Gutierrez 1). ...read more.


permanent replacement employee status or other employment preferences to individuals for performing bargaining unit work for the employer during a labor dispute; or 2) any employment preference based on an individual's being employed, or having indicated a willingness to be employed, during a labor dispute, over any employee who was there at dispute commencement, has exercised rights through the labor organization involved in the dispute, and is working for the employer, or has unconditionally offered to return to such work. (Congressional Legislation) Such amendments discourage employers from manipulating or discriminating against contingent workers in hopes of acquiring cheap manual labor. As of now, the 'Day Laborer Fairness and Protection Act' is the only proposed legislation that addresses such matters of concern - in particular: pervasive violations of minimum wage and hour protections, inadequate working benefits, and hazardous working environments. Minimum wage has been a topic of concern for the entire nation for many years. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the current minimum wage for standard employees is $5.15. However, the majority of day laborers are denied this financial standard and often suffer from various forms of wage abuse from their employers. The National Employment Law Project informs that "day labor employers often delay payments of promised wages until the completion of a job. ...read more.


The 'Day Laborer Fairness and Protection Act,' which was introduced on July 24, 2003, is currently pending in Congress. The bill was most recently referred to the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections and has yet to receive any amendments. This indicates that the proposal is essentially promising and worthy to be passed as an enforced piece of legislation. The U.S. General Accounting Office however, claims that there are several problems that stand to negatively impact the enforcement of the bill (Worker Protection). These problems include the apparent fact that day laborers are undercounted and that the general contingent workforce fails to make accurate reports of workplace abuse, which increases the difficulty of government investigations. However, the General Accounting Office admits that these issues are of minor concern and can be addressed simply by altering steps in enforcing the policy and by educating day laborers to determine enforcement priorities (Worker Protection). In conclusion, day laborers and contingent workers are a significant contribution to the economy and provide seeking employers with a flexible workforce; however they are consistently victims of workplace exploitation. As a result, Gutierrez, who recognizes that "there has been little done to regulate and protect these workers," has introduced the 'Day Laborer Fairness and Protection Act' in order to address the abuse inflicted upon them, specifically minimum wage violations, inadequate working benefits/compensation, and unsafe working environments. ...read more.

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