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Category Archives: Wage Slavery

Letter: Par for the column – Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Posted: August 25, 2017 at 4:00 am

Vince Emmer, your golf metaphor for big government is a really, really sad attempt to dis big government. But columns have always been the work of a duffer.

First thing your metaphor misses is there is a par to each hole. You don’t make us understand what constitutes under and over the balance line that would be consensus. What is the bogey or the hole in one, spending wise?

Next most golfers play 18 holes, and the game is much more about the back nine than the front end.

But of course your brand of economics never ventures onto the back nine, where the sand traps of wage slavery and rust-belt industry are negotiated only by Asian players.

Case in point, saying each household owes $56,000 a year is just a fear tactic. With the current tax structure, and the many ways government finances debt, nobody actually owes this. Instead we pay forward a portion of the earning (which the government is borrowing, interest free) plus various fees and taxes to local agency, where one chooses to be a member of the same civility. This would be the front nine.

The back nine is the fact that the structure of government is much the same as corporations, in that they are champions or duffers to the extent they can carry debt.

The ability to carry debt in capitalist societies keeps the operation under par even with forays into the woods like Afghanistan and Iraq, and breath test-qualified mortgage-backed securities, etc. If you equate the per-household equivalent in the corporate world, it would be the cost passed onto consumers, hidden fees and the fact banks are borrowing peoples savings at a rate as close to interest free as it can manage.

But of course, our current neo-liberal economist and business school caddies don’t even know the difference between the putter and the driver in this matter. Face the fact governments are financed by more than one club and must always play the full round, while business can spin off debt into subsidiaries and spend their time in the clubhouse.

Eric Olander

Glenwood Springs

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FANTASTIC NEGRITO Addresses Current Events in New Tracks – Broadway World

Posted: at 3:59 am

When FANTASTIC NEGRITO released his Grammy award-winning album The Last Days of Oakland in 2016, it received critical acclaim for its honest look at racism, gun violence, wage slavery, and other challenges facing our country. That continues with the re-release of the album on September 1, 2017 via Cooking Vinyl, which features two new tracks, “Push Back” and “The Shadows”, which anticipated the events of today.

Almost prophetic in its subject matter, both “Push Back” and “The Shadows” reveal the soul of an artist trying to make sense of the political world around him that affects not only the governments but the fate of families, especially for people of color. Tackling the results and lack of progress from the current Administration head on in “The Shadows” (“I got trouble on my mind / I’ve been reading the headlines / That man that said “you’re fired” / Brought the Devil out of retirement”) and the Border Wall and immigration in “Push Back” (“They’re trying to build a wall / But that won’t help at all”), these two tracks are a direct response to the current state we as a country are in.

“Being African American in this country is f****** brutal,” he explains. “It’s painful and we, as individuals, have a way to combat that. And Fantastic Negrito for me is a way to combat that.”

In addition, Fantastic Negrito will be supporting Sturgill Simpson on his Fall U.S. tour. TOUR DATES Supporting Sturgill Simpson

SEP 07 Smart Financial Centre / Sugarland, TX SEP 08 Verizon Theatre / Grand Prairie, TX SEP 09 AUSTIN360 Amphitheatre / De Valle, TX SEP 14 Radio City Music Hall / New York, NY SEP 15 Merriweather Post Pavilion / Columbia, MD SEP 16 Blue Hills Bank Pavilion / Boston, MA SEP 19 Fox Theatre / Detroit, MI SEP 21 Fox Theatre / St. Louis, MO SEP 22 Huntington Bank Pavilion / Chicago, IL SEP 25 Red Rocks Amphitheatre / Morrison, CO SEP 28 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall / Portland, OR SEP 29 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall / Portland, OR SEP 30 Marymoor Amphitheater / Redmond, WA OCT 06 The Greek Theatre / Los Angeles, CA

Fantastic Negrito’s The Last Days of Oakland took home the 2017 Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy Award. While blues is an integral part of Fantastic Negrito’s overall foundation, his music defies genre, blending hip hop, rock, and other styles to create a sound that led Pitchfork’s Greil Marcus to say “he could be inventing the blues for the first time.”

He made his national television debut as Fantastic Negrito on the season finale of Fox’s Empire, performing both his single “Lost in a Crowd”-the track that brought him to national attention, winning NPR’s inaugural Tiny Desk Concert Contest-and the hit song “Good Enough” alongside “Empire’s” Jamal Lyon.

Photo Credit: Max Claus

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Why the West should care about Thailand’s new fight against fishing slavery – PRI

Posted: August 22, 2017 at 11:52 pm

Thailands $7 billion fishing trade is among the worlds biggest. In recent years, its also been one of the most severely scandalized an industry blighted by reports of slavery on fishing trawlers. Many of these tales recall 18th century-style barbarity at sea.

Each year, Thailands docks have traditionally launched thousands of trawlers into the ocean, often with crews of roughly 20 men. Most are not complicit in forced labor. But less scrupulous captains have taken advantage of the oceans lawlessness.

In port cities, theyve bought men from Myanmar and Cambodia for $600 to $1,000 per head. Duped by traffickers, the migrants come to Thailand seeking under-the-table work in factories or farms.

Instead, theyve found themselves hustled onto fishing boats that motor into the abyss, thousands of miles from civilization, where they are forced to fish for no pay. Various investigations have uncovered thousands of cases.

As one deputy boat captain of a Thai trawler told GlobalPost: Once a captain is tired of a [captive], hes sold to another captain for profit. A guy can be out there for 10 years just getting sold over and over.

Related: Read our award-winning investigationSeafood Slavery

But Thailand is now installing a new system that if effective could seriously reform an industry that has been murky for far too long.

Were trying to change as fast as possible, says Adisorn Promthep, director general of Thailands Department of Fisheries. We want to make sure no vessel escapes our scope.

Installed last year by Thailands military government, Adisorn is charged with bringing transparency to a business marked by opacity.

For years, fish have been routed through a dark supply chain that obscures their origins. This has given exporters plausible deniability with regard to forced labor.

Practically everyone has acknowledged the accounts of escaped or freed slaves, who have come ashore reporting tales of murder and beatings aboard trawlers. But there has been genuinely no way of proving whether this pound of mackerel or that box of fish sticks was sourced from a captive.

This is not a concern limited to Asia. It has serious implications for shoppers in the United States and European Union, two primary importers of seafood from Thailand.

Recent investigations by Greenpeace have implicated Nestl Purina and The J.M. Smucker Company producers of Fancy Feast and Meow Mix cat food, respectively in sourcing fish from factories accused of forced labor violations. Other reports have shown Costco and Walmart entangled in tainted supply chains allegations that led both to join a Seafood Task Force to clean up criminality in the seafood industry.

Here are some key elements of the Thai governments new plan, which is designed to reduce overfishing as well as root out forced labor.

Obscuring the origins of fish caught on dodgy vessels has traditionally proved rather easy. The fish is often offloaded to a massive mothership, a sort of way station and marketplace floating on distant seas, hundreds of thousands of miles from Thai shores. There, slave-caught fish gets mixed in with legit catches.

But under new rules, Adisorn says, every batch of fish will be recorded in an extensive digital log book. Once fully operational, this will illuminate the entire supply chain so that any factory, any consumer, should be able to check where the fish actually came from.

Thai authorities have actually banned offloading fish from trawlers to motherships for the time being. This applies to any boat officially flying the Thai flag and is designed, in part, to stop captains from buying and selling captives on motherships.

There is a caveat: These transshipments may be allowed if monitored by onboard observers. These observers are paid roughly $120 per day an incredible salary, considering Thailands daily minimum wage hovers around $10. These observers are technically freelancers. But they will be trained by Thailands fisheries department. Their main job is to collect data on the supply of fish in parts of the ocean prone to overfishing.

But the Thai government also expects them to deter illegal labor practices on board. Only a few dozen have been trained for deployment so far.

Every boat that can carry 60 tons or more will be outfitted with a GPS-style monitoring system that is just like the navigator in your car, Adisorn says.

Captains used to file paper documents about their whereabouts. Thats no longer good enough, Adisorn says. We need to know where theyre located. At all times.

Moreover, most of the boats now undergo rigorous inspections at newly installed control centers every single time they leave or return to port. Thai officers wont just check equipment and inspect nets full of wriggling fish. Theyre also supposed to check that crew records match the actual fishermen on board.

If a captain has 10 laborers, and one isnt supposed to be there, the arrest happens at the port, Adisorn says. The prosecution starts right there.

We have about 10,000 vessels total that we have to check. We cant check all of them, he says. Last year, officials tried to do that, he says, and managed to cover roughly 85 percent. But sometimes, when you try to do too much, the quality isnt good enough.

The officers have since been ordered to conduct more intensive checks on fewer boats a shift to give them ample time to properly scrutinize each crew. Adisorn recalls one recent case in which an officer, skeptical about a young fishermans age, pulled the worker off the boat and checked his bone density at a local hospital. He turned out to be underage.

This complex set of rules and tracking systems is now roughly 80 percent operational, Adisorn says. Such a sweeping effort to sanitize the Thai fishing industrys turbid supply chain will face great resistance from many factions. Among them: unscrupulous officials, corrupt factory owners and uncooperative boat captains.

The current government of Thailand, a junta that seized power in 2014,is also an unlikely crusader for liberty. Critics of the royally backed army government can be treated as seditionists. Some have been locked away for mere Facebook posts.

But the governments anti-slavery plan is already earning cautious praise from Greenpeace, an organization that is more often railing against the fishing industrys abuses.

I actually think theyre trying to do the best they can, says Anchalee Pipattanawattanakul, a Bangkok-based campaigner for the group. They want to show theyre being transparent. They mostly want the EU to see them as progressive.

Two years back, the EU sowed fear among Thai officials by threatening to ban all seafood shipments from Thailand if illegality continued unabated. That threat remains in place.

These reforms were also prodded along by the US State Department, which ranked Thailands trafficking problem in a tier alongside the worlds worst offenders such as Haiti or Sudan.

The US has since lifted Thailand from that bottom ranking a move to acknowledge a wave of prosecutions and asset seizures against traffickers that add up to more than $21 million.

Meanwhile, Thai officials privately note that US pressure has relented under President Donald Trumps administration, which has proved uncommunicative and not terribly interested in the trafficking issue.

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On Monuments and Minimum Wages – The American Prospect

Posted: at 11:52 pm

The statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va.

At 9 p.m. last Tuesday night, city workers began to enclose in plywood the Confederate monument that sits in Birminghams Linn Park. By the following afternoon, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall had announced that he was suing the city for violating state law.

Activists in Birmingham first began calling for the removal of the 52-foot Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument in 2015, after white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina, church. That, in turn, prompted Gerald Allen, a state senator from Tuscaloosa, to introduce the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act to prohibit cities from removing or altering historic monuments more than 40 years old without the approval of a state committee. The predominantly (if not entirely) white Republicans who control the legislature passed the bill along party lines. Republican Governor Kay Ivey signed it into law in May.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell ordered the monument to be covered amid a renewed and urgent call from activists and officials to remove such tributes to the Confederacy, after white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, rallied around a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and proceeded to attack counter-protesters, killing one woman. Several citiesfrom Baltimore to San Antoniohave since taken down Confederate monuments while others debate similar actions.

Mayor Bell, who is black, says he doesnt necessarily want to remove the statuedespite demands from local activistsbut he does think it should provide a broader context that condemns the Confederacy, rather than celebrates it. The Confederacy was an act of sedition and treason against the United States of America and represented the continuation of human bondage of people of color, Bell told the Prospect in an interview. Its anathema to anyone supportive of the United States government to have such a structure sitting on public property.

Furthermore, he points out, Birmingham didnt become a city until 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era. And the monument wasnt erected until 190550 years after the war endedwhen a local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy commissioned the memorial as a gift to the city.

Its my desire to no longer allow this statute to be seen by public until such time that we can tell the full story of slavery, the full story of what the Confederacy really meant, Bell told reporters last week. Now, Bell says, the city is exploring its legal options in light of the states lawsuit. The state attorney general is asking a district court to fine the city $25,000.

I don’t believe that the legislative body has the authority to dictate what monuments or statues we have on public property. Thats a right that the municipal government should control, Bell says. This was built with private dollars and is now protected by the state. The city should have the power to eliminate any source of contention and to maintain public tranquility.

THE STATE OF ALABAMA’S CRACKDOWN ON BIRMINGHAMis just its latest attempt to limit the authority of the majority-black city, which has a black mayor and a majority-black city council. In February 2016, the Birmingham city council approved a $10.10-an-hour minimum wage. Two days later, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a law prohibiting Alabama cities from passing such ordinances and voiding a wage hike for tens of thousands of Birminghams low-wage workers.

The experience of Birmingham is indicative of a broader GOP-led assault on the political power and home rule of Southern cities, home to large black populations, often led by black politicians, and, increasingly, purveyors of progressive policies that seek to improve upon the low standards of state law. From the removal of Confederate monuments to the enactment of local minimum wages, Republican-controlled statehouses are preempting blue citiesand undermining black voices.

These are nothing more than 21st-century Jim Crow laws, Johnathan Austin, chair of the Birmingham City Council, said of the monument removal and minimum-wage preemption laws in an interview with the Prospect. The state of Alabama is trying to control the [states] largest cityand largest black city by prohibiting us from governing ourselves.

Twenty-five statesincluding nearly every Southern statehave laws that prohibit cities and counties from setting their own minimum wage. The four states that have no minimum wage of their own (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee), adhering to the federal minimum instead, are in the South. Now, at least six states have laws limiting the power of cities to remove Confederate monuments, with most passed in the last couple years. All of them are in the South, where Republicans control every single legislative chamber. Despite their calls for local control and fewer regulations, state Republicans are now regulating both the cultural and economic authority of localities.

Last year, state legislators passed the Tennessee Heritage Preservation Act of 2016, which requires public notice, hearings, and a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature in order to remove historic monuments. In 2015, North Carolina signed the Cultural History Artifact Management and Patriotism Act, an Orwellian amalgamation of nouns that requires a state historical commission to approve any removal of monuments. Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia also have similar laws.

In Memphis, a majority-black city, officials are ready to suethe stateif it denies its a new waiver request to remove a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis downtown, as well as a statue of Confederate General and Ku Klux Klan founding member Nathan Bedford Forrest. The move came after the city tried and failed to slog its way through the byzantine maze of GOP-instituted regulations protecting such statues. The matter may very well end up before the state Supreme Court. Legislators in Tennessee, which has the highest proportion of minimum-wage workers in the country, also passed a law in 2014 that prohibits cities from enacting minimum-wage ordinances higher than the state level, which is chained to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

As Barry Yeoman reported for the Prospect last week, protesters in Durham, North Carolinaa liberal city stripped of its authority to take down monuments by the right-wing legislaturefound a way around that impasse by pulling down a Confederate statue themselves. I understand why people felt this was the most expedient way, Jillian Johnson, an African American member of the city council, told Yeoman. There was no legal way to make it happen.

Meanwhile, the Durham council has also been barred from increasing the minimum wage (save for city employees) by the same infamous legislation that restricted transgenders bathroom use.

Durham is just one of dozens of Democratic-controlled citiesAtlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Charleston, Durham, Jackson, Nashville, Memphis, and so on, the blue dots in red stateswhich have lost the authority to raise wages for their (predominately black) workers struggling to get over the poverty line or to remove prominent monuments to a racist and oppressive ideology so their residents dont have to see a general fighting for slavery looking down on them as they go to work.

Republicans insist that protecting these monumentsthe majority of which were built in the early 1900s or during the 1960sare about preserving the history and heritage of the South. Just as they insist that prohibiting local increases to the minimum wagewhich hasnt been lifted on the federal level in eight yearsis about protecting low-wage workers from job loss.

In these ways, GOP lawmakers are actually memorializing the values of the Antebellum South: White supremacy and lowor, rather, nowages.

This article has been corrected to clarify that the city of Memphis has not yet sued the state, but intends to if its waiver to remove its Confederate monuments is denied, and that one of the statues is of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

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The difference between George Washington and Robert E. Lee – Chicago Tribune

Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:10 pm

In his third – and most appalling – set of remarks on a violent white supremacist rally, Donald Trump not only engaged in moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and anti-racist counter-protesters, he went so far as to defend the grudge that brought the white supremacists to Charlottesville in the first place.

“Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” the president said. “So this week, it is Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” The next day, Trump doubled down on this message via Twitter, suggesting that his defense of Confederate monuments is no passing whim but a deeply held conviction. Even the president’s outside attorney, John Dowd, got into the act, circulating an email claiming: “You cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington, there literally is no difference between the two men.”

This is moral sophistry of a high order. At the most basic level, the difference between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, on the one hand, and Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, on the other, comes down to this: The former helped created the United States of America; the latter fought against it. It’s as simple as that. And it doesn’t take a lot of knowledge of history – which the president plainly does not possess – to grasp that basic distinction.

This helps to explain why there are, in fact, no calls to raze the Washington Monument or the Jefferson Memorial even from those who believe that the United States should pay reparations for slavery. True, Washington and Jefferson were slaveholders, and they were acutely conscious that this shameful practice contradicted the soaring ideals of the Declaration of Independence. That is why Washington in his will freed his slaves after his death (although his widow continued to own her own slaves). Jefferson, for his part, freed five slaves in his will and the other 130 were sold by his estate to cover his substantial debts.

But Washington and Jefferson also created a system of government that, while stained by the original sin of slavery, nevertheless established certain “unalienable rights” that would finally be vindicated after the struggles of the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. That Jefferson and Washington were flawed human beings does not negate their greatness or the debt that we owe them for creating our country.

By contrast, what is it that we are supposed to be grateful to the Confederates for? For seceding from the Union? For, in the case of former U.S. Army officers such as Lee and Jackson, violating their oaths to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”? For triggering the most bloody conflict in American history? For fighting to keep their fellow citizens in bondage?

There is nothing praiseworthy about any of this even if, like all soldiers, many Confederates showed considerable prowess and bravery in battle. But then so did Nazi German generals such as Erwin Rommel and Heinz Guderian. The same could be said of Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor. Heck, even the 9/11 hijackers were undoubtedly courageous if also deeply twisted. Why not honor them while we’re at it? The cause in which bravery is displayed matters a lot, and the cause of the Confederacy, to maintain and preserve slavery, was evil. Therefore we should not pay tribute to its leaders. Full stop.

Attempts to suggest that Robert E. Lee was somehow different – that he was a glorious cavalier who embodied a noble “Lost Cause” – are founded on little more than ahistorical mythology. As noted by Adam Serwer in the Atlantic, while Lee was troubled by slavery, he was not an advocate of emancipation. He was, in fact, a cruel taskmaster as both a slave-owner and a general. “During his invasion of Pennsylvania,” Serwer notes, “Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia enslaved free blacks and brought them back to the South as property.” Moreover: “Soldiers under Lee’s command at the Battle of the Crater in 1864 massacred black Union soldiers who tried to surrender.” After the war, Lee opposed giving the vote to freed slaves.

The most praise-worthy thing that Lee did was to conclude the peace at Appomattox in April 1865 and reject calls to wage guerrilla warfare against the Union. But his motives were only partly altruistic – he feared that an insurgency would destroy the social system dominated by the South’s plantation class. The fact that Lee, like German and Japanese leaders, was willing to accept defeat after being soundly beaten does not obviate his fundamental crime in waging war on a country he had pledged to serve.

If there is any Confederate worthy of special recognition it isn’t Lee but his subordinate, Gen. James Longstreet, who after the war battled white supremacist militias in New Orleans who were seeking to deprive freedmen of their rights. But it is precisely for this reason that Longstreet became anathema to his fellow Confederates. No statues to Longstreet were erected until one finally went up at the Gettysburg battlefield in 1998.

And, no, it isn’t rewriting history, as Trump claims, to take down statues honoring Confederates. The real attempt to rewrite history was undertaken by white supremacists who made a fetish of honoring the Confederacy so as to preserve segregation – the oppression of freed slaves and their descendants – when it was under challenge from the 1860s to the 1960s. Mainstream historiography has already been revised to dispel the myth of the “Lost Cause” that was created by white supremacists after the Confederacy’s defeat. Taking down the statues is simply allowing the statuary to catch up with the history.

There is still a place for Confederate statues and even Confederate flags. But that place is on battlefields and museums where history can be recounted in an even-handed and accurate fashion. It is not in public squares where such monuments serve as rallying symbols for neo-Nazis. The very fact that white supremacists are so bent on preserving Confederate statues, by force if need be, tells you all you need to know about why the president of the United States should not be defending them.

Boot is a fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Letter: Environmental damage is not Christian – Roanoke Times

Posted: at 6:10 pm

What if The Bible was written by divinely-inspired men, but not by God? Imagine if there were a Goddess as well as a God. Imagine that homosexuality is a quality of a beautiful, special class of people…

Why doesn’t our nation strive for peace by all means, and end wage slavery in the developing world? Why have we taken and mutilated the land of Native Americans, and killed off most Native Americans? Why have we caused environmental damage worldwide? This is not Christian.

I love just as Jews, Muslims, Africans, Native Americans, Asians, and Christians. We are all sisters and brothers in the love that we believe in. Think about how the military-industrial complex is treating our aforementioned brothers and sisters. This is a nightmare. My question to the dominant group of Christians is, what are you really afraid of? Use common sense at this point. The truth will set you free. We are in the middle of our own fascism. Millions are dead from war, millions are in wage slavery. Read “Killing Hope” by Blum, http://www.workersrights.org and “Made in China” by Ngai to begin to change. We are not a Christian nation.

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INHUMAN TRADE: Labor trafficking hidden in Massachusetts communities – Wicked Local Needham

Posted: at 6:10 pm

Gerry Tuoti Wicked Local Newsbank Editor

EDITORS NOTE: This is the third installment in a series of stories exploring human trafficking in Massachusetts. The series delves into the widespread commercial sex trade in our cities and suburbs, the online marketplaces where pimps and johns buy and sell sex, cases of modern-day slavery and victims tales of survival.

Three years ago, a couple from Brazil moved to Massachusetts with their young child and took jobs with a cleaning company in New Bedford.

Instead of building their piece of the American Dream, however, they soon found themselves in a nightmare, according to prosecutors. Their employer, according to a criminal indictment, forced them to work up to 100 hours a week, cleaning banks, car dealerships, stores and other businesses in Bridgewater, Fall River, Marshfield and Cape Cod.

DMS Cleaning Services owner Donny Sousa, prosecutors allege, had recruited the couple to move from Brazil, promising them $3,000 in monthly wages. Instead, they said, he failed to deliver the promised pay and intimidated them into working for the company, threatening them with a handgun when they asked for their wages. In the 15 months the couple worked for DMS before fleeing, prosecutors say they were paid just $3,600 and had only three days off.

A grand jury indicted Sousa last October on human trafficking, weapons, wage theft and forced labor charges. Sousa has pleaded not guilty and is due back in Bristol Superior Court for a Sept. 6 status hearing.

Its one of the few examples of labor exploitation cases being prosecuted under the states 2011 human trafficking law, which has been most frequently applied to cases of sex trafficking.

While most human trafficking cases in Massachusetts involve the illicit sex trade, labor trafficking and commercial exploitation remain a problem, especially in the immigrant community, said Julie Dahlstrom, a clinical associate professor of law at Boston University and director of the schools Immigrants Rights and Human Trafficking Program.

We dont have accurate statistics around this problem, Dahlstrom said. Anecdotally, what weve seen is largely non-citizens subject to labor trafficking, although it does sometimes impact citizens.

The Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization that runs a national human trafficking hotline, got calls about 88 human trafficking cases in Massachusetts last year, 15 of which involved labor trafficking. Those numbers likely represent just a small fraction of human trafficking incidents, experts say.

We have had cases involving domestic servitude, said Lt. Detective Donna Gavin, head of the Boston Police Departments Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking Unit. Those are cases where families have been visiting from other countries and brought a domestic servant with them, and have held onto their passport and are not paying them.

Last May, a Cambridge couple paid a $3,000 settlement to resolve allegations that they failed to properly pay a live-in Filipina nanny they brought with them from their native Qatar. Mohammed and Adeela Alyafei, Attorney General Maura Healeys office alleged, failed to pay the nanny for several weeks. When she asked for her wages and said she wanted to return to her home in the Philippines, the couple demanded her passport, bought her a plane ticket to Qatar, and threatened to punish her upon her return, according to prosecutors.

Healey said there have been trafficking cases involving housekeepers, nannies and construction workers.

Exploiters often hold considerable leverage over their victims, especially if they are foreign nationals living in the country illegally.

I think if you look at the labor context they are especially vulnerable because they fear retaliation by their employers. They fear reprisal, Healey said. Weve had matters where employers have not paid wages, subjected them to horrible conditions, then said, By the way, if you complain about it, were going to call ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Certainly those who are undocumented have an additional layer of vulnerability.

Experts say human labor and sex trafficking cases can be found in all corners of the country. The North Carolina-based World of Faith Fellowship church, for example, has engaged in a years-long human trafficking operation, importing a stream of church members from Brazil and forcing them to work in the United States for little or no pay, according to a recent Associated Press investigation.

President Donald Trumps immigration policies have added to a climate of fear in the immigrant community, making it even less likely that trafficked or exploited undocumented workers will seek help from the authorities, Dahlstrom said.

With the new administrations policy, theres so much uncertainty, she said. I think local law enforcement are trying to ensure the public feels safe reporting exploitation, but my fear is traffickers are unscrupulous and traffickers will use that uncertainty to hold workers or exploit them in poor conditions. The executive order indicated almost any non-citizen is an enforcement priority, so that means when they report to Homeland Security, theyre both a victim and an enforcement priority at the same time.

NEXT: In the fourth and final part of the series, experts and former victims of sex trafficking explore the internets role in the illicit sex trade in Massachusetts.

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INHUMAN TRADE: Labor trafficking hidden in Massachusetts communities – Wicked Local Littleton

Posted: August 18, 2017 at 5:08 am

THE ISSUE: Less common than sex trafficking, forced labor and commercial exploitation remain underreported issues, particularly in immigrant communities, experts say. THE IMPACT: Massachusetts in recent years has seen forced labor cases involving domestic servants, construction workers and janitors, according to Attorney General Maura Healey.

EDITORS NOTE: This is the third installment in a series of stories exploring human trafficking in Massachusetts. The series delves into the widespread commercial sex trade in our cities and suburbs, the online marketplaces where pimps and johns buy and sell sex, cases of modern-day slavery and victims tales of survival.

Three years ago, a couple from Brazil moved to Massachusetts with their young child and took jobs with a cleaning company in New Bedford.

Instead of building their piece of the American Dream, however, they soon found themselves in a nightmare, according to prosecutors. Their employer, according to a criminal indictment, forced them to work up to 100 hours a week, cleaning banks, car dealerships, stores and other businesses in Bridgewater, Fall River, Marshfield and Cape Cod.

DMS Cleaning Services owner Donny Sousa, prosecutors allege, had recruited the couple to move from Brazil, promising them $3,000 in monthly wages. Instead, they said, he failed to deliver the promised pay and intimidated them into working for the company, threatening them with a handgun when they asked for their wages. In the 15 months the couple worked for DMS before fleeing, prosecutors say they were paid just $3,600 and had only three days off.

A grand jury indicted Sousa last October on human trafficking, weapons, wage theft and forced labor charges. Sousa has pleaded not guilty and is due back in Bristol Superior Court for a Sept. 6 status hearing.

Its one of the few examples of labor exploitation cases being prosecuted under the states 2011 human trafficking law, which has been most frequently applied to cases of sex trafficking.

While most human trafficking cases in Massachusetts involve the illicit sex trade, labor trafficking and commercial exploitation remain a problem, especially in the immigrant community, said Julie Dahlstrom, a clinical associate professor of law at Boston University and director of the schools Immigrants Rights and Human Trafficking Program.

We dont have accurate statistics around this problem, Dahlstrom said. Anecdotally, what weve seen is largely non-citizens subject to labor trafficking, although it does sometimes impact citizens.

The Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization that runs a national human trafficking hotline, got calls about 88 human trafficking cases in Massachusetts last year, 15 of which involved labor trafficking. Those numbers likely represent just a small fraction of human trafficking incidents, experts say.

We have had cases involving domestic servitude, said Lt. Detective Donna Gavin, head of the Boston Police Departments Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking Unit. Those are cases where families have been visiting from other countries and brought a domestic servant with them, and have held onto their passport and are not paying them.

Last May, a Cambridge couple paid a $3,000 settlement to resolve allegations that they failed to properly pay a live-in Filipina nanny they brought with them from their native Qatar. Mohammed and Adeela Alyafei, Attorney General Maura Healeys office alleged, failed to pay the nanny for several weeks. When she asked for her wages and said she wanted to return to her home in the Philippines, the couple demanded her passport, bought her a plane ticket to Qatar, and threatened to punish her upon her return, according to prosecutors.

Healey said there have been trafficking cases involving housekeepers, nannies and construction workers.

Exploiters often hold considerable leverage over their victims, especially if they are foreign nationals living in the country illegally.

I think if you look at the labor context they are especially vulnerable because they fear retaliation by their employers. They fear reprisal, Healey said. Weve had matters where employers have not paid wages, subjected them to horrible conditions, then said, By the way, if you complain about it, were going to call ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Certainly those who are undocumented have an additional layer of vulnerability.

Experts say human labor and sex trafficking cases can be found in all corners of the country. The North Carolina-based World of Faith Fellowship church, for example, has engaged in a years-long human trafficking operation, importing a stream of church members from Brazil and forcing them to work in the United States for little or no pay, according to a recent Associated Press investigation.

President Donald Trumps immigration policies have added to a climate of fear in the immigrant community, making it even less likely that trafficked or exploited undocumented workers will seek help from the authorities, Dahlstrom said.

With the new administrations policy, theres so much uncertainty, she said. I think local law enforcement are trying to ensure the public feels safe reporting exploitation, but my fear is traffickers are unscrupulous and traffickers will use that uncertainty to hold workers or exploit them in poor conditions. The executive order indicated almost any non-citizen is an enforcement priority, so that means when they report to Homeland Security, theyre both a victim and an enforcement priority at the same time.

NEXT: In the fourth and final part of the series, experts and former victims of sex trafficking explore the internets role in the illicit sex trade in Massachusetts.

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INHUMAN TRADE: Labor trafficking hidden in Massachusetts communities – Wicked Local Littleton

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Thousands of workers to get payout after employers – including Argos – failed to pay minimum wage – Scottish Daily Record

Posted: at 5:08 am

Thousands of the UKs lowest paid workers will share 2million in back pay in a scheme to name and shame employers who have failed to pay the National Minimum Wage.

Nineteen employers in Scotland, including hairdressing and retail firms, have been identified and ordered to pay 90 workers over 35,000.

UK-wide, the biggest offenders were the Argos chain, who failed to pay 1.4million to 12,176 workers.

As well as paying back staff the money owed, employers on the list have been fined a record 1.9million.

Since the scheme was introduced in 2013, 40,000 workers have received back pay totalling more than 6million, with 1200 employers fined 4million

Pat Rafferty, leader of the Unite union in Scotland, said: He added: Todays list of shame is only the tip of the iceberg.

The question is, what is to be done about this Dickensian disgrace?

Theres only one answer join a union. That is the only way to take on this modern-day slavery.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Ian Duncan said: To hear that there are still companies who believe they can get away with underpaying their staff is unacceptable.

If it takes naming and shaming to ensure that employers wake up to their responsibilities, the UK Government will not shirk from that task.

Workers need to know that we have their back on this one.

Employers excuses for underpaying workers included deducting money from pay packets to pay for uniforms, not paying workers for overtime hours and paying apprenticeship rates to workers.

Meanwhile, average weekly earnings have fallen across the UK despite record low unemployment rates.

Pay dropped 0.5 per cent over the three months to June compared with the same period last year.

The STUC accused Westmister of economic illiteracy for managing to hold down pay while more people get jobs.

Figures also showed the number of employed people in Scotland rose by 30,000 in the three months to June the fastest rate in the UK, equalled by London.

There are now 2,650,000 Scots in work 86,000 more than the pre-recession peak.

The UK rate jobless rate fell in the same period to 4.4 per cent.

SNP Economy Secretary Keith Brown welcomed the positive jobs figures.

He said: This is a further vote of confidence in our economy, coming after GDP figures showing Scotlands growth rate was four times faster than that of the UK over the last quarter, and recent reports of accelerating growth across the private sector.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said it was a trend I hope to see continue.

But STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said: The Scottish Government must use their tax and borrowing powers to invest in our public services and economic infrastructure.

And Stuart McIntyre, of the Fraser of Allander Institute, warned: We note that almost all of the recent rise in employment is among the self-employed, which may have implications for tax revenues and the hours and type of work undertaken.

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Glasgow hairdresser and Clydebank chippy named and shamed for not paying staff – Glasgow Evening Times

Posted: at 5:08 am

A Glasgow hairdresser and a Clydebank fishand chip restaurant are among the Scottish companies being named and shamed by the UK government for underpaying their workers.

More than 13,000 of the UKs lowest paid workers, including 90 people in Scotland, will get around 2 million in back pay as part of the scheme to name employers who have failed to pay National Minimum Wage and Living Wage.

Top of the Scottish List this year was The Fish and Chip Ship Limited, in Clydebank which failed to pay 4,900.15 to nine workers. A spokeswoman for the company said I dont want to make any comment just now, as I have only just received the letter about this.

Also on the list of shame is James Hughes Hair in Glasgow which failed to pay 1,567.94 to two workers.

In total nineteen businesses Scotland have been identified and ordered to pay their 90 workers 37,000, with hairdressing and retail businesses amongst the most prolific offenders.

Scottish Secretary of Unite Pat Rafferty, called it a Dickensian disgrace and urged the low paid to join his union to fight this modern day slavery.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy today published a list of 233 businesses across the UK that underpaid workers.

As well as paying back staff the money owed, employers on the list have been fined a record 1.9m.

Second on the listwas DSL Accident Repair Ltd, in Edinburgh who failed to pay 4,896.43 to three workers. One of the managers, who asked not to be named said We rectified this as soon as it was discovered. It actually was a mistake by the local college who had advised us what rates to pay those who had been training. But we sorted it out very quickly.

Then came hairdressers the Rainbow Room Limited (named changed to JPTO Ltd), in Clarkston who failed to pay 4,532.94 to 21 workers. Company director Adrian Foxworthy told the Herald his trainees contracts had been provided by the National Hairdressers Federation (NHF) which required them to be in work 15 mins early.

Since this case they have changed all trainees contracts in the UK. I was fined and also had to pay the correct amount back dated to previous employees. All my employees now are not contracted to be in 15 mins early, he said.

Meanwhile, Braehead Foods Ltd, promoted as a fine food wholesaler and Scottish game processor who supply the best chefs in the hospitality industry across the UK and Europe, failed to pay 3,434.39 to 28 workers. The Kilmarnock-based company was asked to comment, but did not respond.

Mr Rafferty said: Day after day Scotland is blighted by employers determined to avoid their legal responsibilities and force their workers to accept poverty wages. Todays list of shame is only the tip of the iceberg of whats going on. The question is what is to be done about this Dickensian disgrace? Theres only one answer -join a trade union.

He said 10 out of the 19 Scottish companies on the list were hairdressing firms, which seemed to be run by modern day Mr and Mrs Micawbers.

The people who work for them are being forced to take an illegal wages haircut to boost their employers profits. Unite Scotland is campaigning today to get these workers to fight this disgrace by joining a trade union.

The NHF was asked for a comment but did not respond.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Lord Duncan said: To hear that there are still companies that believe they can get away with underpaying their staff is unacceptable. If it takes naming and shaming to ensure that employers wake up to their responsibilities then the UK Government will not shirk from that task. Workers need to know that we have their back on this one.

Shadow Scotland Office Minister Paul Sweeney said: Any trader or business found not to be paying the minimum wage should face the full force of the law.”

Labour would crack down on unscrupulous employers, ban overseas-only recruitment practices and increase prosecutions of employers evading the minimum wage.

In addition to ensuring companies pay the minimum wage, we would increase it by creating a National Living Wage of 10 per hour as part of our plan for country that works for the many, not the few.

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Glasgow hairdresser and Clydebank chippy named and shamed for not paying staff – Glasgow Evening Times

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