This week on CounterSpin: The LA Times’ Michael Hiltzik is one of vanishingly few national reporters to suggest that if media care about crime, if they care about people having things stolen from them—maybe they could care less about toasters and more about lives? As in, the billions of dollars that are snatched from working people’s pockets every payday by companies, in the form of wage theft—paying less than legal wages, not paying for overtime, stealing tips, denying breaks, demanding people work off the clock before and after shifts, and defining workers as “independent contractors” to deny them benefits. Home Depot just settled a class action lawsuit for $72.5 million, while their CEO went on Fox Business to talk about how shoplifting means we’re becoming a “lawless society.”
There is legislative pushback; New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has added wage theft to the legal definition of larceny, allowing for stronger prosecutions. But such efforts face headwind from corporate media telling us to be mad about the rando taking toilet paper from the Walgreens, but not the executive who’s skimming your paycheck every two weeks. Not to be too poetic, but corporate thieves don’t need masks as long as corporate media provide them.
We talk about wage theft with Rodrigo Camarena. He’s the director of the immigrant justice group Justicia Lab, and co-author, with Cristobal Gutierrez of Make the Road New York, of the article “How to End Wage Theft—and Advance Immigrant Justice” that appeared earlier this month on NonProfitQuarterly.org. He is co-creator of Reclamo!, a tech-enabled initiative to combat wage theft.
Plus Janine Jackson takes a quick look back at recent press coverage of climate protests.