I opened today's Star Tribune to this story in the business section: Trucking firm abruptly locks doors. It's not the kind of headline that would usually catch my attention, but the secondary headline did: "Lakeville Motor Express's 95 stranded workers are owed thousands in unpaid salary."
The basics of the story are that LME padlocked its doors on Wednesday (nice guys: that was the day before Thanksgiving), laying off its employees and absconding with their final paychecks, some of which were as much as $3,000. Let's see, 95 x $3,000 = about $300,000.
The workers, who are members of the Teamsters Union, say the company has popped up with another name in a different northern suburb. It's now called Finish Line Express, located in Maple Grove:
Terminated workers said they have seen Lakeville Motor’s former supervisors and terminal managers working in the truck yard at the new Maple Grove location. They also said they saw Lakeville’s trucks and freight at the new site....LME had, of course 95 employees. What a coincidence. Miraculously, FLE was incorporated in May 2016 and has the same managers as LME.
Lakeville Motor “didn’t close. The freight is still there. The trucks are still there. And the customers are still there. All they did was change the logo on the trucks” and terminate its unionized drivers and dock workers without notice, said Virgil Christoffersen, the Teamsters business agent who represents the 95 employees who worked for Lakeville Motor Express....
Monte Hanson, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), said any employer laying off 100 workers must notify the state and give its workers 60 days’ notice. Employers with fewer than 100 workers “are encouraged to comply with the spirit of the law,” Hanson said.
This vileness is part of the wage theft travesty that happens in the U.S. all the time. Remember, as the Economic Policy Institute found two years ago, the total amount of money stolen from workers through wage theft is three times as much as the amount taken in every robbery, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft in the U.S. each year.
Think of the impact of all the robberies, burglaries, and thefts in this country. We all know someone who has been robbed, burgled, or had something otherwise stolen. Most of us have had it happen ourselves. It's a huge problem and everyone knows it.
Wage theft is three times as big of a problem!
It's bad enough that wages are not as high as they should be relative to productivity gains over the past 30 years, but this is out-and-out theft of money from people who have put in time working.
And it's what we get as unions are undermined and all of the things we thought were settled are eroded by corporate greed and me-firstism.