NC JUSTICE NEWS: Tell Gov. McCrory to veto HB 318 + Labor Commissioner Berry and Wage Theft + Rise of Contingent Workers

October 21, 2015

HOSTILE HOUSE BILL 318: Legislation sends signal of hostility to many

It's not too late for Gov. Pat McCrory to veto a bill that sends a signal of hostility to immigrants and those struggling to find employment.

House Bill 318 does nothing to help strengthen North Carolina's economy. Passed September 29, 2015, this harmful legislation would undermine local government authority and restrict the powers of the state's Executive branch as well.

Among the bill's most troubling provisions: restrictions on how local governments address their own needs when it comes to immigrant communities; and restrictive limits on jobless workers' ability to receive food aid during times of economic downturn or in parts of North Carolina that face persistent labor market distress.

HB 318 would be an incredibly damaging policy change. A veto allows everyone to see North Carolina can reject divisive politics, and instead, pursue public policies that send a message of hope as the real North Carolina value.

WAGE THEFT: Tell NC Labor Commissioner to make companies pay workers

Wage theft is a serious problem in North Carolina. Each year thousands of working North Carolinians are denied money they earned, but our state Department of Labor does very little to help. According to a new investigative report in the News & Observer, NCDOL allowed employers to get away with stealing more than $1M in wages from workers in 2014 alone.

The worst part of the wage theft situation is that the vast majority of the theft occurs in industries that already pay low wages, meaning that any stolen earnings can financially devastate working families already living on the edge.

This is not only immoral; it’s illegal, and the NC Department of Labor has the authority to do something about it.

Take a few minutes today to send a letter asking NC Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry to uphold the law and make companies pay their workers. It's time to demand that our leaders take action against wage theft and protect North Carolina workers.

CONTINGENT WORKERS: How growth of temporary jobs harms NC workers

Contingent employment—any job in which an individual does not have an explicit or implicit contract for long-term employment—has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few decades. This type of work is harmful for workers, as it is characterized by low wages, lack of access to benefits, and higher incidents of health and safety violations. While some benefit from the flexibility of these arrangements, it is harmful to those workers who find themselves stuck in arrangements like this involuntarily.

A new report from the Workers' Rights Project finds about one-third of the entire American workforce can be classified as contingent workers, which includes part-time workers, independent contractors, self-employed workers, and a combination of temporary workers hired through agencies, temps hired directly by an employer, and temps hired as contractors. Temp work is growing much faster in North Carolina than in the nation as a whole, a troubling trend since temp work pays a lot less the state’s average wage.

Policymakers can lead the way to a better future for North Carolina’s workers in a few ways. They can forbid public contracts from using contingent workers, reign in the overuse of temp workers, enforce wage and hour laws in contingent employment arrangements, and enact policies that provide these workers with outside supports and benefits, including raising the minimum wage. The state and federal governments need to promote policies that provide workers with these vitally important supports that contingent workers can rarely get through their jobs.

BAN THE BOX: Second chances in the national spotlight

The collective efforts of the Second Chance Alliance and similar organizations across the country to Ban the Box and restore opportunities for men and women with criminal records gained some extraordinary momentum in the last month.

Daryl Atkinson, one of the Second Chance Alliance's founding members, recently starred in a Daily Show segment on Ban the Box. Through humor, the truth and humanity of Ban the Box shines through.

Congratulations are also due to Daryl as he prepares to take a sabbatical from his position as a senior attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice to become the US Department of Justice’s inaugural Second Chance Fellow. You can read Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s introduction and praise of Daryl here.

Last weekend, John Legend and #FREEAMERICA released a video and Time op-ed calling on President Obama to Ban the Box as applied to federal contractors and the federal hiring process. Join this call for reform by signing the Color of Change Ban the Box petition here.

Research & Publications: