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In the past two years, these efforts were most highly visible in Florida.
A recent study from Florida International University estimates that –90 million per year is stolen out of Florida workers’ paychecks.177 Yet since Florida’s legislature abolished the state’s Department of Labor in 2002, there are no state enforcement personnel to combat this problem.178 Further, the state attorney general has failed to bring a single case of wage theft in recent years.
This report provides a broad overview of the attack on wages, labor standards, and workplace protections as it has been advanced in state legislatures across the country.
Specifically, the report seeks to illuminate the agenda to undermine wages and labor standards being advanced for non-union Americans in order to understand how this fits with the far better-publicized assaults on the rights of unionized employees.
ver the past two years, state legislators across the country have launched an unprecedented series of initiatives aimed at lowering labor standards, weakening unions, and eroding workplace protections for both union and non-union workers.
Before analyzing the legislative measures recently promoted to undermine U. wages and labor standards, it is useful to understand where the measures come from, and why they have appeared where they have.
This report begins by examining the recent offensive aimed at public-sector unions in order to point out the tactics commonly employed by corporate lobbies such as ALEC and the Chamber of Commerce; it establishes that their agenda is driven by political strategies rather than fiscal necessities.
The paper then examines the details of this agenda with respect to unionized public employees, non-unionized public employees, and unionized private-sector workers.
By 2008, the number of laws that inspectors are responsible for enforcing had grown dramatically, but the number of inspectors per worker was less than one-tenth what it had been in 1941, with 141,000 workers for every federal enforcement agent.167 With the current staff of federal workplace investigators, the average employer has just a 0.001 percent chance of being investigated in a given year.168 That is, an employer would have to operate for 1,000 years to have even a 1 percent chance of being audited by Department of Labor inspectors.
Budget cuts and political choices have exacerbated this crisis even further at the state level.
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By far the most galvanizing and most widely reported legislative battle of the past two years was Wisconsin Gov.