Fair Labor Practices: We’re All Responsible
A recent article in the New York Times about labor issues in the booming warehousing industry in California’s Inland Empire calls attention to challenges we in the staffing industry, as well as our clients, need to be mindful of.
The article cites cases in which workers were paid under minimum wage, were misinformed about their compensation, or were—according to a Warehouse Workers United suit—“forced to work long hours under oppressive conditions for legally inadequate pay.”
Let’s be clear: When industries boom, it’s great for the economy; but fueling the boom by taking unfair advantage of a beleaguered workforce is not only potentially illegal; it’s unethical and unacceptable. Reputable staffing agencies take it upon themselves to find qualified employees, ensure proper working conditions and fair compensation, and inform workers of the exact nature of their employment. For their part, employers are responsible for providing proper working conditions and need to refrain from pressuring staffing agencies into providing staff below market rates.
We all have financial pressures, to be sure. We need to seize business opportunities when they arise. But it’s not starry-eyed idealism to believe that enabling workers to live decently as the result of their labors is a drag on the economy. That’s the way the U.S. has worked in its brightest days. It’s up to everyone to make sure everyone else is treated fairly.