Letter: Plight of low-wage workers
Putting it gently, Bradley Petroleum’s approach to employee theft (PI, Jan. 19) seems extraordinary. But it is part of a larger issue. It’s actually pretty easy for mini-mart (and fast food and dollar store, etc.) employees to steal from their employers, and employee theft is widespread in low-wage retail establishments. Bradley is hardly alone in having to cope with this problem. Most employers tend to eat the resulting losses as business expenses they pass on to paying customers. Bradley was reported to be quite aggressive about trying to suppress employee theft.
But why do these employees steal so much in the first place? Probably because they are only paid enough to subsist and often need help from government programs to achieve even that. (We all pay to subsidize profits for these low-wage employers.) Some employees have to work several jobs. They lack paid leave and are expected to work even when they or their children are ill. Many are not permitted enough weekly hours to qualify for employer health insurance. They receive no share of profits no matter how good a job they do. They are often required to work nights and on the Sabbath. And they can’t see much of a way to get a ahead in these “entry-level” jobs that in reality provide entry into nothing but economic dead ends. Why wouldn’t they steal?
Bradley Petroleum may stand out in terms of crossing ethical and legal lines with its efforts to suppress employee theft, but it is quite ordinary insofar as helping to create it.
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