Presentation Title

Wage Theft in Nebraska

Advisor Information

Lourdes Gouveia

Location

Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library

Presentation Type

Poster

Start Date

6-3-2015 11:00 AM

End Date

6-3-2015 12:30 PM

Abstract

The term “wage theft” first appeared in academic literature in 2006. However, it is only a contemporary iteration of the exploitation of workers, which Karl Marx described in Das Kapital. The existence of wage theft today is the result of profound transformations in the U.S. economy since the 1970s. In contemporary terms, wage theft is defined as the non-payment of wages to employees or sub-contractors by employers or contractors for work completed. Drawing from 25 surveys and 15 interviews with Latino immigrant workers, this study is a first attempt to examine and document the occurrence of wage theft in Nebraska. Survey results briefly describe the prevalence of wage theft, how workers are not paid, in what industries, and how these lost wages affect them financially. From the interviews, it is possible to identify three recurring themes. First, Latino workers describe an arduous, time-consuming, and often time-sensitive process they go through to get their unpaid wages. This process, in turn, causes financial hardship, but also social and emotional stress that negatively affects the victim, family members and other personal relationships. Lastly, the workers describe the need for greater protections and increased oversight on companies that do not pay; they felt that these employers believed themselves to be above the law and had no need to pay them. The project contributions are to provide scholars with a contemporary theoretical framework from which to further investigate wage theft. In addition, it can inform policy making in an area where worker protections are minimal.

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COinS
 
Mar 6th, 11:00 AM Mar 6th, 12:30 PM

Wage Theft in Nebraska

Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library

The term “wage theft” first appeared in academic literature in 2006. However, it is only a contemporary iteration of the exploitation of workers, which Karl Marx described in Das Kapital. The existence of wage theft today is the result of profound transformations in the U.S. economy since the 1970s. In contemporary terms, wage theft is defined as the non-payment of wages to employees or sub-contractors by employers or contractors for work completed. Drawing from 25 surveys and 15 interviews with Latino immigrant workers, this study is a first attempt to examine and document the occurrence of wage theft in Nebraska. Survey results briefly describe the prevalence of wage theft, how workers are not paid, in what industries, and how these lost wages affect them financially. From the interviews, it is possible to identify three recurring themes. First, Latino workers describe an arduous, time-consuming, and often time-sensitive process they go through to get their unpaid wages. This process, in turn, causes financial hardship, but also social and emotional stress that negatively affects the victim, family members and other personal relationships. Lastly, the workers describe the need for greater protections and increased oversight on companies that do not pay; they felt that these employers believed themselves to be above the law and had no need to pay them. The project contributions are to provide scholars with a contemporary theoretical framework from which to further investigate wage theft. In addition, it can inform policy making in an area where worker protections are minimal.