Thursday, March 3, 2016

Some Employers Still Nickel And Diming Employees In Wage Theft Moves

A Hormel plant in Wisconsin. A judge
there ruled, reasonably, if you
must put on protective gear to do your
job at Hormel, they must pay you
for the time it takes to put that stuff on.  
Hormel is the latest company caught trying to rip off its owner workers in a nickel and dime fashion.

In this case, many workers at Hormel's large plant in Wisconsin have to put on sanitary clothing, hairnets, and ear and eye protection before they can hit the factory floor.

Hormel contended it didn't have to pay workers for the time it took to do this, because it really wasn't part of their job. As if the workers were putting on this federally required gear just to get their jollies, I don't know.

True, it probably takes only five or six minutes or so to take the stuff on and off, but that amounts to about 24 hours a year for each worker, according to the Associated Press. When you're not making much money, every little bit helps.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a 4-2 decision, said no, Hormel has to pay its workers to get in gear to do their jobs.

According to the AP:

"Cleanliness and food safety are 'intrinsic elements' of preparing and canning food at the Hormel canning facility,' Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote for the majority. 'The clothing and equipment is intergral and indeispensable to the performance of the employees' job function....of preparing canned food.'"

More than 300 workers were awarded a total of $195,000 in back wages.

Hormel said in a statement, "While we are disappointed the decision was not in our favor, we value our employees and respect the court's decision."

No, if you respected your employees you would pay them for all the work they do for you, not just the majority of it.

As Gawker pointed out, it's a bit shocking that swaths of corporate America think it is controversial to pay its workers for all the hours they put on the job.

As Gawker editorialized:

"We are talking about multibillion dollar corporations adding to their profit margins by taking money directly out of workers' paychecks. In some cases, legally! 

In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court (with Scalia, may he rest in peace) rules that Amazon did not have to pay its workers for the time they spent standing in line waiting to be checked by corporate security guards to make sure they didn't steal anything from Amazon. 

That half-hour of time, which was not optional, the company got for free."

The line between work and leisure is more blurred than ever. People do regularly check their work email from home often. I did so today, even though the company I work for discourages it. They're one company that does not want its employees to work unless they're on the clock and getting paid.

But most people, like me, don't mind taking a few minutes every now and again to check in with work. We do want to do a good job, after all.

However, the tricks by Hormel and Amazon were so blatant you wonder if these companies think that workers should work for free.  
The editor at the Huffington Post UK says paying writers
 for their work would make their words "inauthentic."

That's true in the gig economy, too. Huffington Post recently took a lot of deserved grief.

They generally don't pay their writers, and especially not their bloggers, under the theory that the "exposure" of people seeing their words in the Huffington Post would lead to some sort of benefit.

Last mont, Stephen Hull, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post UK, was asked in an interview why he doesn't pay his writers.

Hull responded: "If I was paying someone to write something because I want to get advertising, that's not a real authentic way of presenting copy. When somebody writes something for us, we know it's real, we know they want to write it. It's not been forced or paid for. I think that's something to be proud of."

Oh, so no writer should try to make a living at it? Or by Hull's logic nobody should work for money, because doing so is "inauthentic."

I trust that Hull collects no salary and does his duties as Huffington Post UK's editor-in-chief because that would make the end product inauthentic. How could I possibly trust anything I read in the Huffington Post if somebody is paid to edit the copy?

Or, as New Statesman editorialized, Hull's life must be very difficult if he's forced to live by his rules of authenticity:

"Presumably, he can't go out to eat at restaurants, because the food the (paid) chefs cook him is inauthentic. And when he's ill, he must have to research his symptons online instead of visiting a GP, because their salaries mean the diagnoses they give aren't real. He must have to walk to work because of all those pesky salaried workers driving tube trains and buses, ruining the authenticity of daily commutes."

There have always been people who want something for nothing.  Do some cheap employers think that most everyone wants to toil 40, 50, 60 or more hours a week for no benefit, just the joy of making some rich guy or gal richer?

Almost everybody wants to do a great job at work. But a well completed task has value. If you want something of value, you have to buy it, pay for it.

So pay your damn workers!!!

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