Friday, June 09, 2006

In the GME, the only valuable commodity is time / World - US workers challenge value of being overworked:

And now the workers, and their lawyers confirm it.

by Patti Waldmeir in Washington
Published: June 8 2006 18:29 | Last updated: June 8 2006 22:49
"Increasingly, US workers are banding together to demand payment for all the hours they work, including unpaid overtime, work done during meals and time spent walking around on the job. Collective lawsuits involving wages and hours are growing exponentially, according to a recent study by the law firm Seyfarth Shaw, which found that mass litigation over pay and working hours outnumbered any other kind of workplace class action last year, including gender and other job discrimination lawsuits."

“Certainly this kind of suit is not as glitzy or sexy as some other kind of claims,” he says, but adds that entrepreneurial plaintiffs’ attorneys have discovered that such suits can be very lucrative. Many legal experts say plaintiffs’ attorneys are driving the rise in litigation, because they can earn large settlement fees.

But worker advocates disagree, saying that as employers try to cut labour costs, they are increasingly violating the law, while state and federal agencies charged with enforcing it are not doing so aggressively. “There’s been a decline in enforcement actions by the public agencies . . . and the private bar has stepped in and taken over the responsibility of enforcing the laws,” says Cathy Ruckelshaus of the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for low-wage workers.

“....We want people to be eager beavers, so it goes against the grain to say ‘work to rule’: but if he doesn’t sue you, somebody else might!” says Mr McCormick. The same is true of the secretary who answers phone calls on her lunch break, or reads a book while waiting for dictation.

Every day, the rules of the game change. The incentives for independent contractors working by project, rather than by hours has just increased.

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