When subcontractors, freelancers and independent contractors get hurt or abused on the job, these workers are finding it harder to hold employers accountable. This is no accident - it's a direct result of a neoliberal labor agenda.
In 2011, Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc., a corporate partner of the
Marriott hotel chain, used a general contractor that it had hired to
renovate guest rooms at the Host-owned Copley Marriott in Boston. A
convoluted web of subcontractors emerged, as the general contractor
subcontracted the work to several other companies, and some of that
subcontracted work was then further subcontracted, with more than a
dozen firms working on the same project.
A state-led, multi-agency investigation found that 15 contractors on
the project committed a wide array of labor law violations. Workers from
a church-sponsored rehabilitation project in Philadelphia were paid
only four dollars an hour—just half the state minimum wage—and no
overtime, though they were required to work 12-hour days and more than
60 hours per week. All told, contractors failed to report or pay taxes
on more than $1 million in wages, and at least one of them failed to maintain workers’ compensation insurance policies for the hazardous work. They misclassified
many of the workers as independent contractors, thus evading tens of
thousands of dollars more in unemployment insurance taxes, workers
compensation premiums, and employer-side taxes, while stripping workers
of basic workplace rights.
Because so many layers of contractors were involved in the project,
investigators had difficulty determining which ones could be held
responsible for the violations. Host Hotels, which ultimately benefited
from the sub-minimum wages and tax evasion,
asserted that it had no legal obligation to the workers and should not
be held liable for any of the violations committed by the subcontractors
or their subcontractors.
Companies at every possible level of the project avoided
accountability for the mistreatment of the workers. Despite having
found that 15 companies had broken the law and abused their workers,
authorities only held three subcontractors to the most immediate
sanction—Stop Work Orders. The general contractor neither faced
significant penalties nor admitted wrongdoing.
As a summary of the investigation put it, “The issue of which entity was legally the employer and responsible for the wages was never resolved.”
As corporations continue to look for ways to skirt government
regulations and increase their profit margins, many will continue to
hire intermediaries or misclassify workers as a way of outsourcing their
responsibility and escaping liability. This shift is part of
neoliberalism’s broader political realignment towards deregulation of
markets and the empowerment of corporations.
taken from here
The article goes on to discuss possible ways of enforcing stricter measures of regulation to prevent such abuse of workers but also notes, as in the final paragraph above, that there are always ways of side-stepping such regulations.
Here at SOYMB we would call any such proposed regulations reforms, ie measures which tinker around the edges of issues related to workers' conditions without addressing the fundamental cause.
Call it 'neoliberalism' or call it 'capitalism' business based on profit (capitalism) must be abolished in favour of production for use (socialism) to bring about the demise of abuses like those described above.