|Date:||Apr 12, 2018|
|Topic(s):||Economic Development: Economic Conditions, Economic Development: Policies and Programs, Poverty / Income Inequality: Economic Inequality, Poverty / Income Inequality: Exploitative Businesses, Poverty / Income Inequality: Low-Wage Work|
In 2017, Professor Hallett, winner of a public research fellowship from Open Buffalo and PPG, conducted a survey of 213 workers in Buffalo to learn more about the challenges they are facing.
The survey found that local low-wage workers experience high rates of legal violations. In all, 58.9% of low-wage workers reported at least one wage and hour violation, and 56% reported at least one potential health and safety violation. In particular, among low-wage workers participating in the survey:
· 16% reported making below the applicable federal or state minimum wage;
· 35% reported not being paid overtime in violation of federal or state law;
· 16% reported working off the clock without being paid;
· 27% reported that they had failed to receive their pay on time;
· 24% of low-wage workers making tips reported that their employer had taken some of their tips in violation of federal or state law;
· 33.3% of low-wage workers who reported handling dangerous materials or operating dangerous equipment as part of their jobs reported that their employer did not provide adequate safety or protective gear; and 26.7% reported not being properly trained to avoid accident or injury;
· 21.6% of low-wage workers who complained about their pay or working conditions to their employer reported being retaliated against.
The survey revealed clear differences based on gender, race/ethnicity, and citizenship status. Women, members of racial and ethnic minorities, and non-citizens reported higher violation rates in response to most questions.
The report’s recommendations include:
· The City of Buffalo and Erie County should:
o pass wage theft ordinances that penalizes employers who do not pay their workers.
o pass laws that require employers to provide paid sick leave.
o refrain from doing business with companies that have bad health and safety records.
· The Buffalo Police Department and the Erie County District Attorney’s Office should treat wage theft as a crime.
· Buffalo should raise its living wage rate to $15 per hour.
· Erie County should pass a living wage law, requiring companies that do business with the County to pay a living wage of $15 per hour.