25 Mart 2017 Cumartesi Breaking News             Latest US News            New York

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Click to read THE HIDDEN WORKFORCE EXPANDING TESLA'S FACTORY and watch the video. Read Tesla's response to the investigation. The Sunday story by the Bay Area News Group's Louis Hansen about the hidden workforce that expanded Tesla's Fremont factory was...

Mercury News editorial: Tesla worker betrayal brings call for action

Click to read THE HIDDEN WORKFORCE EXPANDING TESLA'S FACTORY and watch the video. Read Tesla's response to the investigation. The Sunday story by the Bay Area News Group's Louis Hansen about the hidden workforce that expanded Tesla's Fremont factory was...

Mercury News editorial: Tesla worker betrayal brings call for action

Click to read THE HIDDEN WORKFORCE EXPANDING TESLA'S FACTORY and watch the video.

Read Tesla's response to the investigation.

The Sunday story by the Bay Area News Group's Louis Hansen about the hidden workforce that expanded Tesla's Fremont factory was shocking. It raises red flags about labor practices and B-1 visa abuses throughout Silicon Valley and beyond.

The betrayal by Tesla is especially disappointing. The cutting-edge car maker was regarded as the role model for bringing manufacturing jobs back to California. It was the prototype feel-good, green industry that paid its skilled workers a premium for their ultra-productive work.

But not the workers imported to build the expansion of the state-of-the-art plant. They were hired through a contractor and paid the wages they would make in their own impoverished countries, $5 an hour in some cases.

In a formal response to the story Monday, Tesla issued a statement saying "mistakes were made" and pledged to "put in place additional oversight to ensure that are workplace rules are followed even by sub-subcontractors to prevent such a thing from happening again."

It shouldn't have taken a Page One news story to force this. Litigation over an injured worker had made the problem clear to the company. Regulators now need to hold Tesla to its promise -- and look more intensely at labor practices, wage theft and enforcement of these laws throughout Silicon Valley and the United States.

Michael Eastwood, the assistant district director of the San Jose area office of the U.S. Department of Labor, told Hansen, " We have concluded that there is widespread abuse of the B-1 visa in the Bay Area.

Laws governing working conditions may need to be clarified, or at least amped up with better enforcement and greater penalties. Federal authorities need to look at the abuse of B-1 visas to bring workers here and pay them poverty wages, often with no overtime, when American workers are available.

The Tesla case isn't the first to surface. In some cases companies employ these workers directly, with visa holders making less than $2 an hour working alongside fairly-paid legal residents.

As Ruth Silver Taube of the Santa Clara University School of Law community law center writes in the oped below, Bitmicro Networks of Fremont was fined about $160,000 for giving substandard wages to workers brought in from the Philippines. It was the third time in as many years that a valley tech firm was found in violation of state and federal law.

This nation and particularly California have struggled to regain manufacturing jobs in order to help rebuild a middle class and provide more job opportunities between the low-paid service sector and the tech stratosphere. Plant expansions like Tesla's are celebrated partly because construction itself boosts the economy -- assuming the workers are well paid.

If respected companies like Tesla are engaging in this practice, who else is out there? Let's find out, and make the penalty harsh enough that it's cheaper to pay residents a fair wage for their work.

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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