by Lindsay Beyerstein
How our blog got its name
Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”
Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.
It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.
Did Car-Wash Kingpin Cheat Workers?
New York State is investigating whether car-wash kingpin John Lage is underwriting his luxurious lifestyle with wage theft. In an exclusive for the New York Daily News, Erica Pearson reports that Lage is accused of paying $1.75 per hour below minimum wage to workers at his many car washes:
Workers claim that the car washes pay $5.50 an hour — $1.75 less than the legal minimum — plus a pittance in tips. They don’t make overtime and complain about harsh working conditions.
Sources close to the investigation say Schneiderman is zeroing in on “serious” allegations of wage-and-hour violations.
Attendant Adan Nicolas told Pearson that he earns just $5.50 an hour at a Lage-owned car-wash in Astoria. He says that at the end of his 12-hour shifts, his nose bleeds and his vision blurs from all the chemicals he's exposed to, but he doesn't get overtime. Until recently, Nicolas was afraid to speak up because he is undocumented. “You ask for a raise, and they say no,” he told the Daily News, “In a certain way, they say, since we don’t have papers, we don’t have rights.”
[Photo credit: Whizchickenonabun, Creative Commons.]