Slavery in 21st Century America

Posted June 18, 2013
By Clay Cerny

Slavery is dead?  A story has come out over the last few days about worker exploitation at a leading convenience chain.*  The stores are franchised, and owners of 14 franchise locations in New York and Virginia have been arrested for worker exploitations.  Undocumented immigrants were forced to work as much as 100 hours per week and given only a fraction of the salary they earned.

However sickening this story is, it also demonstrates how low some people will sink to make money.  Unethical employers frequently mistreat low wage workers and undocumented workers.  We need strong laws to protect workers – including those who are undocumented – against such exploitation.

This story reminds me that some conservatives argue against the minimum wage.  Do they also advocate repealing the 13th Amendment?  Do they have any value for the work people do?

* I’m not mentioning the chain’s name because it doesn’t deserve negative publicity in this case.  Anyone who reads this blog knows I’m not a fan of big corporations. In this case, however, it is not responsible for the problem.  Going forward, I hope the corporation establishes some system to ensure that franchise owners treat employees properly – and pay them.

P.S.  According to Laura Clawson in Daily Kos, there may be as many as 40 stores involved in the investigation.  Clawson is less forgiving toward the corporation than I am.  Her story is worth your time.