Hundreds allege Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills

Steve Reilly, Hundreds allege Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills. USA Today, 9 June 2016. “Donald Trump casts himself as a protector of workers and jobs, but a USA Today Network investigation found hundreds of people–carpenters, dishwashers, painters, even his own lawyers–who say he didn’t pay them for their work.”

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Insult to Injury: The Demolition of Workers’ Comp

Michael Grabell, ProPublica, Howard Berkes, NPR, Lena Groeger, ProPublica, Yue Qiu, ProPublica, and Sisi Wei, ProPublica, Insult to Injury: The Demolition of Workers’ Comp. ProPublica and NPR, 4 March 2016. “Over the past decade, states have slashed workers’ compensation benefits, denying injured workers help when they need it most and shifting the costs of workplace accidents to taxpayers.”

One of three winners of the 2016 IRE (Investigative Reporters & Editors) Award for Investigative Journalism. “Judges’ comments: This project masterfully details how states across the nation have dismantled their workers’ comp programs, cutting benefits and sticking taxpayers with a growing bill for injured workers. Tackling an often overlooked topic, the reporters built databases tracking legislative changes in each state over the past dozen years, obtained benefit plans from some of the country’s largest companies and combed through thousands of pages of depositions. They used heartbreaking stories and interactive tools to present complex material in an elegant way. Their work paid off in legislative changes in several states, investigations and a wider discussion about needed changes. We are awarding this project an IRE Medal for its wide impact and its fresh approach to showing how employers continue to benefit at the expense of workers.”

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Under cover of darkness, female janitors face rape and assault

Bernice Yeung, Under cover of darkness, female janitors face rape and assault. Reveal (from The Center for Investigative Reporting) and Frontline (PBS), 23 June 2015. Across the country, janitors at companies large and small say their employers have turned a blind eye to complaints of sexual assault, and attacked their credibility when they report abuse at the hands of supervisors or co-workers.” This story is part of Rape on the Night Shift, a collaboration between Reveal, FRONTLINE, the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, Univision and KQED.

Update: Andrew Donohue, Largest janitorial company agrees to reform response to sexual abuse. The Center for Investigative Reporting, 10 December 2015. “The nation’s largest janitorial company has agreed to an outside review of rape claims made by its female janitors in California, adding a new layer of oversight for a company with a history of facing accusations that it failed to prevent sexual violence. ABM Industries Inc. made the pledge as part of a settlement announced Wednesday night with Maria Bojorquez, a former employee who said she was raped by a supervisor while cleaning San Francisco’s Ferry Building in 2004. ABM, and the Bojorquez case specifically, was featured prominently in Rape on the Night Shift, a recent investigation into sexual abuse in the janitorial industry by Reveal, the UC Berkeley Investigative Reporting Program, KQED, Univision and FRONTLINE.”

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The Price of Nice Nails: Manicurists are routinely underpaid and exploited

Sarah Maslin Nir, The Price of Nice Nails: Manicurists are routinely underpaid and exploited, and endure ethnic bias and other abuse. The New York Times, 7 May 2015. “UNVARNISHED: Articles in this [two-part] series [examine] the working conditions and potential health risks endured by nail salon workers.”

Update from the Public Editor of The New York Times: Margaret Sullivan, New Questions on Nail Salon Investigation, and a Times Response, The New York Times, 6 November 2015. “My take: The series and its author, Sarah Maslin Nir, had admirable intentions in speaking for underpaid or abused workers. And the investigation did reveal some practices in need of reform. But, in places, the two-part investigation went too far in generalizing about an entire industry. Its findings, and the language used to express them, should have been dialed back — in some instances substantially…. There is a legitimate and important subject here about low-paid work done by immigrants in New York City — not just in nail salons. It includes, for example, the food-delivery business and many other services that affluent New Yorkers take for granted. I’m always glad to see The Times take on situations in which the poor and voiceless are exploited. But, in doing so, it must protect its reputation for accuracy and rigor above all. My recommendation is that The Times write further follow-up stories, including some that re-examine its original findings and that take on the criticism from salon owners and others — not defensively but with an open mind.”

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Seafood From Slaves: AP Investigation

Robin McDowell, Margie Mason and Martha Mendoza, Seafood From Slaves. Associated Press Investigation, 25 March 2015. “An AP investigation helps free slaves in the 21st century. Over the course of 18 months, Associated Press journalists located men held in cages, tracked ships and stalked refrigerated trucks to expose the abusive practices of the fishing industry in Southeast Asia. The reporters’ dogged effort led to the release of more than 2,000 slaves and traced the seafood they caught to supermarkets and pet food providers across the U.S.”

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service. The articles are presented here in their entirety.”

Winner of the 2016 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting.

Winner of the 2015 IRE (Investigative Reporters & Editors) Medal for Investigative Reporting.

Winner of the 2015 George Polk Award for Foreign Reporting.

Winner of the 2015 Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Journalism.

Democracy Now!, Is the Seafood You Eat Caught by Slaves? Meet the Pulitzer Winners Who Broke Open a Global Scandal. 18 April 2016.

Joaquin Sapien, Captive Labor and the Reporters Who Exposed an International Scandal. ProPublica, 18 April 2016.

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Product of Mexico: Hardship on Mexico’s farms, a bounty for U.S. tables

Richard Marosi and Don Bartletti (Photography and Video), Product of Mexico. Los Angeles Times, 7-14 December 2014. Four-part series: “Los Angeles Times reporter Richard Marosi and photojournalist Don Bartletti traveled across nine Mexican states, observing conditions and interviewing workers at some of the mega-farms that have powered the country’s agricultural export boom.” Part 1, Harsh Harvest: Hardship on Mexico’s farms, a bounty for U.S. tables.A Times reporter and photographer find that thousands of laborers at Mexico’s mega-farms endure harsh conditions and exploitation while supplying produce for American consumers…. Farm exports to the U.S. from Mexico have tripled to $7.6 billion in the last decade, enriching agribusinesses, distributors and retailers. But for thousands of farm laborers south of the border, the boom is a story of exploitation and extreme hardship.” Part 2, No Way Out: Desperate workers on a Mexican mega-farm: ‘They treated us like slaves.’  “Scorpions and bedbugs. Constant hunger. No pay for months. Finally, a bold escape leads to a government raid, exposing deplorable conditions. But justice proves elusive…. A raid exposes brutal conditions at Bioparques, one of Mexico’s biggest tomato exporters, which was a Wal-Mart supplier. But the effort to hold the grower accountable is looking more like a tale of impunity.” Part 3, Company Stores: Company stores trap Mexican farmworkers in a cycle of debt. “The mom-and-pop monopolies sell to a captive clientele, post no prices and track purchases in dog-eared ledgers. At the end of the harvest, many workers head home owing money…. The company store is supposed to be a lifeline for migrant farm laborers. But inflated prices drive people deep into debt. Many go home penniless, obliged to work off their debts at the next harvest.” Part 4, Child Labor: Children harvest crops and sacrifice dreams in Mexico’s fields. “An estimated 100,000 Mexican children under 14 pick crops for pay. Alejandrina, 12, wanted to be a teacher. Instead, she became a nomadic laborer, following the pepper harvest from farm to farm…. [These] 100,000 children under 14 pick crops for pay at small- and mid-size farms across Mexico, where child labor is illegal. Some of the produce they harvest reaches American consumers, helping to power an export boom.”

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Techsploitation, Part Two: Federal contracts: Federal tech contracts awarded to job brokers with labor violations

Jennifer Gollan and Matt Smith, Techsploitation, Part Two: Federal tech contracts awarded to job brokers with labor violations. The Center for Investigative Reporting27 October 2014. This “yearlong probe by The Center for Investigative Reporting found that porous federal oversight allows these labor brokers to financially exploit workers with little fear of detection. It turns out that those that are caught can continue to survive and thrive–including on the taxpayers’ dime.” Published with The Guardian and NBC Bay Area. [Read more…]

Techsploitation, Part One: Modern-day indentured servants: Job brokers steal wages, entrap Indian tech workers in US

Matt Smith, Jennifer Gollan and Adithya Sambamurthy, Techsploitation, Part One: Job brokers steal wages, entrap Indian tech workers in US. The Center for Investigative Reporting, 27 October 2014. “Labor brokers providing Indian high-tech workers to American companies are gaming a professional visa program, creating a shadow world that can turn a worker’s dream of self-betterment into a financial nightmare.” This story was published with The Guardian and NBC Bay Area.

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The Case for Reparations

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Case for Reparations. The Atlantic, 21 May 2014. “Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.”

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Workers at N.Y.U.’s Abu Dhabi Site Faced Harsh Conditions

Ariel Kaminer and Sean O’Driscoll, Workers at N.Y.U.’s Abu Dhabi Site Faced Harsh Conditions. The New York Times, 18 May 2014. “Facing criticism for venturing into a country where dissent is not tolerated and labor can resemble indentured servitude, N.Y.U. in 2009 issued a “statement of labor values” that it said would guarantee fair treatment of workers. But interviews by The New York Times with dozens of workers who built N.Y.U.’s recently completed campus found that conditions on the project were often starkly different from the ideal.

Virtually every one said he had to pay recruitment fees of up to a year’s wages to get his job and had never been reimbursed. N.Y.U.’s list of labor values said that contractors are supposed to pay back all such fees. Most of the men described having to work 11 or 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week, just to earn close to what they had originally been promised, despite a provision in the labor statement that overtime should be voluntary.

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