A quick editorial for Labor Day. OK, the day after Labor Day, since I didn't ... you know ... labor yesterday. Today's Boston Globe had a nice news piece about some vile labor practices by 15 construction contractors working on the $18 million renovation of the Boston Marriott Copley Place hotel in Copley Square. Reporter Casey Ross found that the contractors failed to report $1.2 million in wages, skipped out on taxes for those waves and - shock, shock - "illegally misclassified 63 employees to avoid spending money on required taxes, insurance, and other benefits."
But it gets worse. It turns out that one of the contractors got workers from a "Philadelphia drug rehabilitation ministry, Victory Outreach. And the workers got to toil for 12 hours a day, six days a week for half the Mass. minimum wage $4 an hour for many days hauling new furniture up to the fixed-up rooms at the Marriott.
Unfortunately, this story is one among thousands of similar tales that can be heard around Massachusetts alone at any given time. And the state regulatory budget to chase after labor law scofflaws has faced cut after cut over the last thirty years. So for every report like this one - originally brought to light by local Carpenters Union officials, by the way - there are huge numbers of labor abuses that go unreported.
And labor laws and regulations are getting weaker with each passing year, as labor unions get weaker in a weakening economy controlled by corporations in their own interest.
So if anyone asks you why we need a strong labor movement in the United States, point them to the Globe story above and say "see, things are not ok for working people in America, and we need to organize collectively and set things right."
Naturally, since this publication has been known to publish the odd story on labor doings round these parts, I'd be pleased if you point your friends to Open Media Boston, too.
Here's hoping that you all didn't really start working again today. After all, in some sense, every day is Labor Day. So why not relax a bit more, right?
Jason Pramas is Editor/Publisher of Open Media Boston ... he actually did labor on Labor Day ... on his MFA thesis ... d'oh! and woohoo!