To the Editor:
The Republicans now have control of the executive and legislative branches in 20 states. Influenced by business groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Republican controlled states have passed legislation designed to enhance the position of employers at the expense of employees.
This year’s Iowa legislature discussed wage theft but legislation was blocked by Republicans. Wage theft refers to the practice among employers of taking money from their employees by illegally paying them less than the minimum wage or not paying them overtime. In 2010, Miami-Dade County in Florida passed an anti-wage-theft ordinance, resulting in more than 600 prosecutions and $1.7 million recovered in stolen pay in the first year alone.
One of the causes of wage theft is lax enforcement of the U.S. wage and hour laws. As of 2008, there was an average of one federal inspector of businesses for every 141,000 workers. When in 1941, there was one federal inspector for every 11,000 workers. Compare this with the 2012 law in Tennessee that mandates the State Department of Labor audit 1,000 recipients of unemployment insurance per week. The red tape Republicans so often claim to oppose. The Republican Tennessee lawmakers found the money for inspectors of unemployed workers but not for inspectors of employers.
It is in the best interest of all Iowans to keep a split in power of the executive and legislative branches. Iowa needs a balance between management and labor.
Julie Stewart Ziesman