Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Input Devices Your Rights Online

A Phone App Helps Day Laborers Attack Wage Theft (nytimes.com) 101

An anonymous reader writes with this story from the New York Times, excerpting "After three years of planning, an immigrant rights group in Jackson Heights is set to start a smartphone app for day laborers, a new digital tool with many uses: Workers will be able to rate employers (think Yelp or Uber), log their hours and wages, take pictures of job sites and help identify, down to the color and make of a car, employers with a history of withholding wages. They will also be able to send instant alerts to other workers. The advocacy group will safeguard the information and work with lawyers to negotiate payment." Adds the submitter: "Although I completely support the app, personally, I see this encountering some significant legal challenges. Hope they've lawyered up." Though the use case is different, this is similar in spirit to "cop watch" apps, like Cell411 and the ACLU's Mobile Justice. (And of course there's Periscope.)
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

A Phone App Helps Day Laborers Attack Wage Theft

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2016 @10:22PM (#51646391)

    Early reports show Donald Trump is in the lead for the most number of reports from this app.

  • https://myaccount.nytimes.com/... [nytimes.com]

    Seems to link to someones personal NYT sub.

  • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Saturday March 05, 2016 @10:29PM (#51646417)

    "Adds the submitter...(And of course there's Periscope)"

    Which is a tool 100% unlike either the app the NY Times is writing about or the other two apps the submitter referenced. So while yes, there is Periscope, it is not germane to this discussion.

  • Sounds useful. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArylAkamov ( 4036877 ) on Saturday March 05, 2016 @10:30PM (#51646421)

    Sounds good to me. I've recently started logging my hours after a number of suspiciously low pay checks and frequently being "forgotten" on payday.

    Being an independent contractor sucks. Especially when the boss is always several states away and never answers his phone.

    Yeah, I should quit, I know, but it's either marine electrician or unemployment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Do you work on fishing radar or just yacht internals? If you don't have family you must stay with, consider relocating to Trinidad. Much greater demand for marine electricians when everyone needs their boats to work, and most boats are fairly advanced.

  • A small issue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oshkrozz ( 1051896 ) on Saturday March 05, 2016 @10:32PM (#51646425)
    I can see the unintended consequence
    IRS
    They better be current on all their reporting to the IRS before making any claims for or against anyone. Day labors tend to not be so vigilant in this area
    • Day labors also tend to be illegal immigrants. I wonder how long until this is considered a criminal enterprise or the cops end up demanding the user database. Even sanctuary cities might be forced into compliance and if E-verify becomes mandatory, it can cause problems with these employers too.

      • Re:A small issue (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday March 05, 2016 @11:22PM (#51646557)

        I wonder how long until this is considered a criminal enterprise or the cops end up demanding the user database.

        Nobody really cares about "illegal immigrants". The Democrats see them as future Democratic voters, and the Republicans want to keep them around as a wedge issue that they can exploit. Most cops are local government employees, and immigration is a federal matter. In my city, San Jose, California, cops are prohibited from asking about anyone's immigration status, unless they have already been arrested for other reasons.

        • cops are prohibited from asking about anyone's immigration status, unless they have already been arrested for other reasons

          As it should be. No cop should be requesting information unless they have a valid law enforcement interaction with you and looking like a crook is not valid.

          Republicans want to keep them around as a wedge issue that they can exploit

          Well, that and cheap labor. In fact, many democrats like the idea of cheap labor too.

          This is why things like E-verify [uscis.gov] is important. It gives penalties to emp

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Luthair ( 847766 )
          I'd say the republicans want to keep them around so they can pay them less than minimum wage and drive wages down.
          • I'd say the republicans want to keep them around so they can pay them less than minimum wage and drive wages down.

            In California, minimum wage is $10/hour. At least where I live, you cannot hire day laborers for less than that. They won't take the job, and since the demand for labor is higher than the supply, they don't need to. Considering that they are working tax free, $10 in cash is effectively a lot more than minimum wage.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              i work in California as a construction worker and metal fabricator

              i assure you, myself, my crew, and they guys on the street will take less than $10/hr if there are no other
              options available. and we often do. even though we can get as much as $100 for a skilled job

              everything here is predicated on cheap labor, so cheap those that work - hard - can't afford things like
              heath care and housing. to pretend otherwise is a lie.

    • Re:A small issue (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday March 05, 2016 @11:17PM (#51646545)

      They better be current on all their reporting to the IRS before making any claims for or against anyone.

      I don't think the idea is to "make claims", but to make it harder for abusive employers to find laborers. My company occasionally needs extra labor for a rush job, and I head over to the local Home Depot parking lot to pick up some Mexicans. They all know each other, and word spreads fast, so scumbag employers will drive around and try different laborer congregation sites. This app will help guard against this by spreading information more widely. I never have a problem because we pay hard cash at the end of the work day. We also provide a free hot lunch (hot in both temperature and condiments).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        ..."We also provide a free hot lunch (hot in both temperature and condiments)."
        This is discriminatory against Midwesterners, Lithuanians and anyone who knows what oofta means! Where's MY lawyer?

    • Re:A small issue (Score:4, Interesting)

      by KGIII ( 973947 ) <uninvolved@outlook.com> on Sunday March 06, 2016 @12:28AM (#51646781) Journal

      I've hired people from Labor Ready, including just recently after a few Slashdotters helped me make a great big mess on the lawn and beach. To be fair, they weren't the only ones there for the NYE festivities. But, I'd used them before.

      I can't say how valid this is but they're VERY clear on the documentation that you, the contractor, sign. They employees are all supposed to be documented and paying their taxes. They get paid daily (or weekly) and the "appropriate" sums are withdrawn before they even see the money. They fill out a W-2, show ID, and all that. At the end of the day (or week) they can get a check or they can get a code. They put their code and some other number(s), I don't know the exact details, into a machine that looks like an ATM but is not an ATM and it spits out their money.

      I have no idea how stringent those checks on ID are, how well they follow the IRS' regulations, or anything like that but they're very, very clear about it. I also have no idea how other companies do it as I have no experience with anyone but Labor Ready. I always cheat and give them extra money on top of what they get paid from the company so I'm probably not helping matters much. I call 'em tips and that's exactly what they are. I kind of doubt they're paying taxes on their tips but, at the same time, they may not actually (and probably are not actually) be earning enough by tips to be required to report it.

      Also, the policy I signed says that I'm not supposed to give them tips. However, Labor Ready takes something like 1/3 of their pay. I only use Labor Ready because there's some accountability, insurance, and the employees are supposed to be documented. I've used them a number of times over the years and in a few different locations. I've only once had to send someone back to the office. The rest have all been good people who worked well.

      I make sure to ask the average wages and pay more than that and the guys who run the place don't send the drunks and lazy people. Meh, it works out well. I sent the ones from the NYE cleanup home with a whole bunch of left-over booze and the three kegs so that they were able to get the deposits on those too. I can't say that I have any complaints and the workers seem pretty happy to get paid well and not have to work for a hard-ass that's breathing down their necks. I've already set it up to pay them for x-amount of hours. If they get it done sooner than that, they get same amount of pay so long as they don't go back to the office too soon.

    • Pfft, its the contractors themselves that need to worry about the IRS; how many of 'em do you think try to run cash-based whenever they can??
  • Takers! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Saturday March 05, 2016 @11:13PM (#51646533)
    Those damn takers are at it again. The Job creators need your wages. Goddamned socialists!
    • Huh? I'm not sure I follow what you are saying here. Do you actually think that expecting a days pay for a days worth of work is socialism or that keeping the pay is some sort of socialism? The former is free market capitalism, the later is criminal behavior plain and simple. I'm not sure where socialism or any political ideology comes into play here other than a lot of the workers are illegals which is the only real reason people can get away with robbing their wages and underpaying them. It's not like the

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

        Do you actually think that expecting a days pay for a days worth of work is socialism

        That is actually one of the most prominent parts of the Republican Party's platform.

        I wouldn't be surprised if there were t-shirts and bumper stickers on sale at CPAC with "Expecting A Day's Work For A Day's Pay Is Socialism" on them.

        • lol.. Your trying to be silly.. Or you ran out of meds.

          • Who gets an honest day's wages these days? Productivity has tripled in the last few decades, while basically all the increased profits have gone to the executives and investors. If you were getting an honest day's wage you'd be making 3x as much as you actually are.

      • Re:Takers! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Saturday March 05, 2016 @11:44PM (#51646617)

        Huh? I'm not sure I follow what you are saying here. Do you actually think that expecting a days pay for a days worth of work is socialism or that keeping the pay is some sort of socialism? The former is free market capitalism, the later is criminal behavior plain and simple. I'm not sure where socialism or any political ideology comes into play here other than a lot of the workers are illegals which is the only real reason people can get away with robbing their wages and underpaying them. It's not like they can complain to any authorities without fear of legal consequences for themselves.

        It was a throwaway sarcasm/joke. Not even all that good of one. Kinda like how the job creators need as much money as possible to create jobs, and how employees are viewd as the enemy.

        But if I might, since you've decided to take my lame joke seriously - years and years ago, I had a job selling auto stuff, like oil, batteries and tires. I was pretty good at it. The owners set up a bonus system for the salesmen. For sales above X amount, we'd get a percentage. So I set out and sold, sold, sold. In a few weeks I was into the bonus sales. The first time, I got there, they said that it wasn't completely set up yet. Okay, no problem. The second time, it was "Those things you sold were lower profit items." I was a little annoyed. The third time, I asked about it and they told me they had to change the dollar figure for getting bonus. Upward, of course.

        They didn't consider it criminal behavior at all, they considered it good, sound business practice. And what was I going to do about it? Nothing much, so it was indeed good, sound business practice. Do you even think for a minute that this behavior isn't going on for citizens as well? With the same results?

        Now of course, I scaled the sales back and got another job pretty quickly. But they carried on for a number of years, probably screwing other employees over.

        • They didn't consider it criminal behavior at all, they considered it good, sound business practice. And what was I going to do about it? Nothing much, so it was indeed good, sound business practice. Do you even think for a minute that this behavior isn't going on for citizens as well? With the same results?

          I'm sorry to say but you are or were kind of stupid. If an employer refused to pay me when I follow their own rules, I move on to another job and likely take them to court for back wages. There shouldn't

          • I'm sorry to say but you are or were kind of stupid. If an employer refused to pay me when I follow their own rules, I move on to another job and likely take them to court for back wages.

            So what is your plan, you a breatharian, and can exist on nothing or something like that? Have such resources that you can at any time quit without notice, then have the additional resources to fully prosecute these people? And me at the tender age of 19? Sorry, I don't jump ship until I know another one is coming. Even back then. I simply got a new job in a couple weeks, and the problem was solved for me.

            Perhaps you are independently wealthy, have a sugar daddy or mommy, or can simply move back in withy

      • by Anonymous Coward

        He is responding to the fact that in America anything that advantages employees over employers is immediately derided by conservatives as being socialist or communist. The thing he's saying is a parody of that view; he's being sardonic.

  • but when are we going to start enforcing minimum wage law? Yeah, I know a lot of these are illegals and they're screwed either way, but I know some guys that are ex-cons treated the same way. These guys hurt us all. Shit runs down hill and their low wages serve to depress wages everywhere...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

      but when are we going to start enforcing minimum wage law?

      The current minimum wage law is a joke. There are states where the minimum wage is still $7.25 an hour.

      I don't care what kind of job you have, if you're working for someone, it's worth more than $7.25 an hour. If you're the Quality Assurance supervisor at a Las Vegas strip club, your time is still worth more than $7.25 a goddamn hour.

      And by the way, I'm currently seeking a position as a Quality Assurance supervisor at a Las Vegas strip club. If yo

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Even if I had no money, I would not get out of bed to be paid the least amount possible, by law. If someone's paying you minimum wage, they're basically saying that they'd love to pay you less but the law prevents them from doing so. It's tantamount to telling you that you're worth the lowest amount legally possible.

        I'd find a nice, older, heavy-set widow and stud myself out before I got out of bed to be insulted like that. I suppose I'd do it if I were truly destitute but, at that point, I might just as we

        • by Whibla ( 210729 )

          Oh, ha! Come to think of it? Your name reminds me of a movie with a guy named "Ratzo" in it. He's hanging out with a guy from Texas who's gone to New York to be a gigolo. The Texan's not very good at his job and they go to Florida and Ratzo dies. Oh yeah, spoiler alert. It's a kind of funny movie and I've not seen it in years. I've no idea what the name of it is.

          Midnight Cowboy.

  • What about night shift workers?

  • How will the data be verified? There is so much potential for abuse here.

    • How will the data be verified? There is so much potential for abuse here.

      You mean people who hire day laborers might be targets for abuse?

      Now THAT is irony.

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      It's like any other review system, one person abuses it but is outweighed by dozens of others also reviewing employers.

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03... [nytimes.com]

    seriously, have you no decency slashdot editors?

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      > have you no decency slashdot editors?

      Of course they don't. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Nor would you! Don't lie. You'd be sad and bored if it they did a better job. You'd have to find something new to bitch about. If we can't bitch about "editing" we'd have to find something new to do. We might even have to read the articles and make intelligent, insightful, or informative comments. That would be like cats and dogs living together!

      No sir! I would not stand for it.

      I will not stand it, if they

  • There was a rash of people submitting jobs to Mechanical Turk and then not paying anyone. The person paying can rate work as unacceptable and not pay, and there's no real oversight if they just do that all the time (and Amazon doesn't police this at all, or even provide a reputation mechanism). So some academics put together a third-party site, Turkopticon [ucsd.edu], that people use to rate jobs, payers, etc., which has made it a lot easier to avoid the people on the site who won't pay. Seems like a good idea to extend it to "the real world".

  • You can only have anything approaching a Free Market[1] with good information flow. This will help the labor market immensely.

    [1] Whether it can ever truly exist is a matter of debate and I am dubious on the matter [2]

    [2] By the way, do not confuse a Free Market with an unregulated market. Often well regulated markets can approach Free Market conditions. Unregulated markets often become captured markets, e.g. monopolies.

  • Couldn't this have been done via a website decades ago? What makes apps so special?
  • It goes both ways (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Sunday March 06, 2016 @02:19AM (#51647155)
    I used to do the accounting at a company which used day laborers. I did my job honestly and paid exactly what each employee's time card said they worked. The biggest problem we had was actually people getting their friend to punch in their time card for them before they'd actually arrived for work, and people hanging around before clocking out to pad the amount of time they'd worked.

    We let the latter abuse slide because it was usually done to round off 7.98 hours worked to 8 hours (the employees we knew didn't do this just got bigger end of year bonuses instead). The former abuse got serious enough we actually considered switching to a fingerprint-based time card. In the end we decided doing so would send a "we don't trust you" message to all our employees, when it was only a few employees who did it. Instead we opted to put the time clock in a more public location, and have the managers sit down with any of their employees we knew did this and give them a talk stressing that having a friend punch in for them was not allowed.
  • The businesses and people which hire day labour probably can't afford to challenge the app creator legally. What they could do is hire unscrupulous hacker groups to DDOS the app's servers, making the app very hard to use. This is the more likely scenario IMHO.

    • by skam240 ( 789197 )

      Day laborers are usually used for landscaping, construction and the like. Do you think many of the people employing them in these industries even know what a DDOS attack is let alone know how to find some one to do it for them?

Ma Bell is a mean mother!

Working...