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Wake County businessman Doug Burton had had enough of the unfair competition that North Carolina continues to sanction with its failure to pass meaningful laws to crack down on the wrongful treatment on employees as “independent contractors.”

In an excellent op-ed in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer, he lays out the increasing dire problem:

“Treating employees as independent contractors when in fact they are regular employees is a fraudulent business practice that has become an epidemic. Some call this “misclassification,” but it is in fact fraud that lets these cheating businesses – many from out of state – off the hook for basic protections, including minimum wage, overtime pay, workers’ compensation, health and safety protections, unemployment insurance, federal and state tax withholding, social security withholdings and matching and more.

This fraud is a growing problem that harms workers, puts a strain on government resources and provides an unfair advantage when these unscrupulous employers compete with law-abiding businesses. I see it every day. Other legitimate business owners see it, too, when they are regularly underpriced for jobs and there is no other explanation for such bids other than cheating. When cheating businesses classify employees as independent contractors to reduce labor costs, legitimate business and workers alike lose out.”

He goes on to explain why current proposals in the General Assembly are a start but fail to go anywhere close to far enough: Read More

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From the good folks at the Farmworker Advocacy Network:

FarmworkersFarmworkers’ Day of the Dead celebration calls for new life in labor issues
Remembering the dead, holiday highlights workers’ plight, lax state protections

RALEIGH, NC – Gathering this Saturday to remember fallen field and poultry workers, North Carolina farmworkers and human rights advocates are set to observe the Day of the Dead in light of current labor hardships. Workers and members of the Farmworker Advocacy Network will gather after El Centro restaurant’s Day of the Dead 5K Run/Walk in downtown Raleigh in honor of the holiday, in which friends and families assemble to celebrate lost loved ones. This year advocates will gather around a traditional Day of the Dead altar at El Centro at 11 a.m. to remember farmworkers who died on the job in North Carolina, including nine children over the last decade. Read More

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Here’s a story that’s been around for a while but gotten far too little attention. The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to loosen regulatory oversight over the poultry processing industry — an industry that has long posed grave safety problems for both workers and the consuming public. If you doubt this, refresh your memory by perusing the Charlotte Observer’s award-winning 2008 series on the industry: “The Cruelest Cuts.”

Fortunately, experts and advocates are pushing back. As the New York Times reported earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office has issued a report blasting the USDA proposal (which would also allow faster line speeds for workers to contend with):

“The Agriculture Department’s plan to change its poultry inspection procedures relied on incomplete and antiquated data, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office released on Wednesday.

The new rules will allow workers at plants, rather than agency inspectors, to examine birds on processing lines for blemishes or feces. Read More

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Workers Memorial Day honors victims of workplace accidents

WHAT: Workers Memorial Day

WHERE: North Carolina Department of Labor, 4 W. Edenton Street, Raleigh

WHEN: Friday, April 26, 12:00 p.m.

Workplace fatalities are all too common in North Carolina. Yet the lives of these men and women, and the facts of their deaths, are too quickly forgotten. Join us for Workers Memorial Day on Friday, April 26, for a ceremony in remembrance of the lives of all 68 workers who died on the job in 2012.

The event will be held at noon at the North Carolina Department of Labor at 4 W. Edenton Street in Downtown Raleigh. Bring one or more pairs of shoes — they will line the street curb and symbolize our loss.

Workers Memorial Day is sponsored by Triangle Jobs With Justice, National Committee for Occupational Health and Safety, Farmworker Advocacy Network, North Carolina Justice Center, Western North Carolina Workers Center, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, and Student Action with Farmworkers.

Be there if you can!

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Author and Duke University history instructor Gabriel Rosenberg has an excellent op-ed in today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer about the Obama Administration’s recent and unfortunate capitulation to big business over proposed rules that would have provided somewhat tougher restrictions on child labor in dangerous occupations.  

About all you need to know about the proposed regs and their importance is to know that Sarah Palin was one of the big critics.

Here’s Rosenberg: 

“The criticisms contained startling inaccuracies. Read More