This week, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change sent the following letter to the United States Department of Labor Minneapolis District Office requesting a federal investigation of wage theft for temp workers at Target Field:
1101 West Broadway Ave, Suite 100
Minneapolis, MN 55411
US Dept. of Labor, Minneapolis District Office
Wage & Hour Division
Tri-Tech Center, Suite 920
331 Second Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2233
November 10, 2015
Dear Mr. Walton:
We have uncovered ongoing wage theft and repeated flagrant violations of labor law by temporary staffing agencies, including New Heights Staffing, Spartan Staffing, Labor Ready, and All Team that recruit workers to fill last-minute needs at concession stands at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins. It is particularly disturbing to note that some of these temp agencies appear to have specifically targeted African-American workers to exploit by cheating them of basic compensation in a taxpayer-funded stadium. It is equally distressing that Delaware North, which holds a contract for all service work at Target Field, is evading accountability for the work performed under that contract by subcontracting the work to irresponsible temp agencies.
1. Target Field temp workers are frequently not paid on time, and in some cases not paid at all. New Heights Staffing employee Anthony Shields worked a full day on September 14, 2015 (Attachments: “A in uniform”, “B sign in sheet”) and has never been compensated. Joe Elliott, another employee of New Heights Staffing, was supposed to be paid on September 27 after working 3 games. Since he did not sign out of 1 game, Joe’s payment was delayed by 2 days. Laws require prompt payment of wages as workers may face severe consequences – including eviction, repossession of vehicles, or inability to fill prescriptions – when employers fail to timely compensate employees for their labor. Indeed, some Target Field workers have reported facing homelessness or late rent payments because they were not paid promptly.
Attachments A (in uniform) and B (sign-in sheet). Anthony Shields worked a full day at Target Field September 14, 2015, and has never been compensated.
2. Temp workers have not received compensation for all hours they were required to spend at the job site. Federal and Minnesota law require compensation for the time employees are required to be on the premises, available to work, and restricted from pursuing other activities. Target Field temp workers receive text messages directing them to report to work at a certain time (Attachment: “C texts”). After they report to the premises and sign in, they are required to stand in line for hours waiting to be dispatched. Although they are not free to leave the stadium or engage in personal activities during this time, their shift does not officially begin until they are dispatched to a task within Target Field, and they are not compensated for the time they are required to wait on-site for dispatch, which is typically between one and three hours. If they are not dispatched that day, they receive no compensation. Sondra Jones, an employee of New Heights staffing, reported to work several occasions, only to be turned away without an assignment or compensation after spending several hours waiting in line to be dispatched. She eventually quit because she was not getting paid for the time she was spending at Target Field.
Attachment C: texts. Target Field temp workers are told what time to report to work via text message--but do not get paid for all the hours they are dispatched at the job site.
3. When this unpaid waiting time is properly counted as hours worked, many Target Field temp workers are getting paid below the state and federal minimum wage (Attachment: “D worker wages”). Including all time spent waiting in line as required by their employers, Target Field temp workers have reported hourly wages as low as $4.44/hour rather than the $9/hour reported on their paychecks, (Attachment: “E paystub example”).
Attachment D, worker wages. When all hours at the job site are properly counted as time worked, hourly wages are as low as $4.44/hour.
Attachment E, pay stub example. Chavi received payment for 26.75 hours, though she actually worked 38.75--meaning her hourly pay was $6.21, below the federal minimum wage.
4. Many temp workers are not able to access their pay stubs, despite laws requiring that workers have timely access to clear records of their hours worked, hourly worked, gross pay, deductions, and other data. (MN Stat. 181.032.) New Heights Staffing employees are instructed to access pay stubs via Paychex, an online portal, but face obstacles to accessing paycheck records: an error occurs as they attempt to create an account, locking them out of the system (Attachment: “F error message”). Without being able to access pay stubs, they cannot know with certainty how much they are getting paid or whether they are getting paid for the correct number of hours. We are aware of the following workers who have encountered these error messages and been unable to obtain paystub information: Laretha Rapp, Joclyn Vetaw, Chante Franklin, Lovie Franklin, and Sondra Jones.
Attachment F: error message. Many Target Field temp workers are unable to access their pay stubs, meaning they cannot be certain how much they are getting paid or whether they are getting paid for the correct number of hours.
While many of these complaints focus on New Heights Staffing, which appears to have some of the most egregious conditions, we have spoken with workers at all four temp agencies subcontracted by Delaware North and believe that wage theft is endemic among the subcontractors operating at Target Field. We ask the Department of Labor for a swift and thorough investigation of working conditions for temp workers at all four agencies currently subcontracted at Target Field, as well as the entities ultimately responsible for employment conditions at Target Field, the Minnesota Twins and Delaware North.
As John F. Kennedy said in 1963, “Simple justice requires that public funds, to which all taxpayers of all races contribute, not be spent in any fashion which encourages, entrenches, subsidizes or results in racial discrimination.” We believe that, in addition to violating basic federal and state labor standards, the labor conditions for black temp workers at Target Field are tantamount to taxpayer-subsidized racial discrimination.
We thank the Department of Labor for your prompt attention to this matter. We look forward to finding a satisfactory resolution for temp workers well in advance of the start of the 2016 baseball season.
Executive Director, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change