Resource Center


The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 26,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364573-882-3364  or where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "living wage" ...

  • Unforgiven: The Long Life of Debt

    The way lenders and collectors pursue consumer debt has undergone an aggressive transformation in America. Collectors today don’t give up easy, often pursuing debts for years. It’s now routine for companies to sue debtors, then seize their wages or the cash in their bank accounts. For many people, these changes have profoundly affected their lives.

    Tags: consumers; collectors; bank; lawsuit; debtors

    By Paul Kiel; Chris Arnold

    ProPublica & NPR


  • Wage Theft In the Fields

    American farmworkers have often experienced egregious abuses, but nothing is more pervasive, nor harder to ferret out, than the wage theft that results from a practice called farm-labor contracting. Found in the fields of every handpicked crop in the country, farm-labor contractors not only provide growers with crews, but also handle wages and manage everything from verifying immigration status to providing workers' compensation. The problem is, the contractors systematically underpay the workers. “Farm labor contractors,” says writer Tracie McMillan, “give American produce growers what companies like China's Foxconn offer to Apple: a way to outsource a costly and complicated part of the business, often saving money in the process and creating a firewall between the brand and the working conditions under which its products are made.” And yet McMillan — a fellow with both the Knight-Wallace program at University of Michigan, and the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University — found that enforcement is rare: In 2008, inspectors visited only 1,499 of the more than 2 million farms nationwide; in 2011, California inspectors found just seven minimum wage violations on the state’s 86,000 farms. Fines are minimal: “It's cheaper to violate the law than to follow the law,” says one farmworker advocate. And wage theft is tedious to prove, requiring inspectors to interview workers, analyze time cards, and collect payroll records. That's why workers and their advocates in California are counting on a lawsuit brought earlier this year on behalf of two farmworkers against the contractors who hired them—as well as the growers who outsourced the work. The suit alleges that the contractors routinely undercounted the hours worked, failed to pay minimum wage or overtime, failed to provide safe or sanitary working conditions, and housed the workers in unsafe and unsanitary living quarters. The “collective action” suit—open to anyone who can prove he or she experienced the same treatment—may cover thousands of workers and deliver awards substantial enough to deter other employers from the same practices.

    Tags: Labor; farms; working conditions; wage

    By Tracie McMillan

    The American Prospect


  • Indentured Doctors

    Throughout the United States foreign doctors are being cheated out of wages, coerced into unfair contracts and being kept away from medically needy patients because their bosses are the ones sponsoring their visas. They work for medical residency and are allowed to live in cities and rural areas with shortage of physicians so long as they work full-time. The program was started by the government, but since its creation there has been little oversight to the abuse of the doctors.

    Tags: work visa; immigration; J-1 doctors; Pahrump; pediatrician; health care;

    By Marshall Allen

    Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.)


  • Building a Life, Paycheck to Paycheck

    In this seven-day series, reporters at The Oklahoman look at the sources of poverty, unemployment, and the lasting effects on Oklahoma residents. This in-depth investigation not only identifies some of the major causes of unemployment in the state, but also puts a face on the working poor, highlighting four Oklahoma residents who struggle to make it. According to the series, a major source of unemployment came from a shift from manufacturing to service jobs. As a result of the stories, there was outpour of help in the community as well as a community forum for residents to share ideas and experiences.

    Tags: health care; unemployment; working poor; social service organizations; Citizens League of Oklahoma; service economy; living wage

    By Steve Lackmeyer;Ryan McNeill;John Perry;Judy Gibbs Robinson

    The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK)


  • Twenty Years and Still Paying : Jeanette White Is Long Dead but Her Hospital Bill Lives On; Full Price: A Young Man, An Appendectomy and a $19,000 Bill Ms.Nix Confronts Harsh Facts of Medical Care Economics -- The Uninsured Are Billed More; Medical Seizures: Hospitals Try Extreme Measures to Collect Their Overdue Debts

    The Journal reveals how America's uninsured are asked to pay much more for their health care than anyone else. This series puts the spotlight on a shockingly unfair billing system, revealing how hospitals bill those without coverage the highest rates, then relentlessly pursue these vulnerable patients using strong-arm tactics that includes lawsuits, wage garnishments, bank account seizures and even jail.

    Tags: Medicare; Medicaid; Illinois Hospital Association; American Hospital Association; Quinton White; Champaign County-Illinois; Elizabeth Benjamin; Legal Aid Society; Yale-New Haven; Service Employees International Union

    By Lucette Lagnado

    Wall Street Journal (New York)


  • American Dreams

    "Each year, hundreds of non-English speaking Mexican men and women are recruited by one of the largest landscaping corporations in the U.S., Torre & Bruglio of Pontiac, MI. T&B brings them in the U.S. under the special federal 'Guestworker' program to live and work in suburban Detroit for eight months. They are promised good housing and wages of $9 to $12 and hour to trim shrubs and cut grass --a fortune for most, who live in a country where the minimum wage is $5 a day, if they can find work." This report shows how these people were living in dangerous and deplorable houses, with major health code and zoning violations. The reporters also found that T&B would make all kinds of deductions from their salaries to pay for rent, refrigerators, furniture, television sets, uniforms, boots and equipment necessary to perform the work they were hired for. They also found that these workers were making less than minimum wage. All this on top of several violations of federal labor law.

    Tags: Mexican workers; federal labor law; illegal deductions; fraud; Torre & Bruglio; Michigan; Detroit; TAPE; TV; TRANSCRIPT

    By Robin Fornoff;Paul Pytlowany;and Suraya Fadel.

    WKBD-TV (Warren


  • Indentured in America

    A joint investigation by the Baltimore Sun and the Orlando Sentinel revealed that "a century and a half after the Emancipation Proclamation... slavery of a sort still (exists) in America. Today's victims are not bound by metal shackles, but legal contracts in which they sign away years of their lives... (The) three-part series told how thousands of Pacific Islanders were lured to America with promises of high-paying nurse's jobs, but ended up emptying bedpans in nursing homes or working at menial tasks at amusement parks, jobs American workers wouldn't take. The contracts, which few of the islanders understood, required them to stay on the job for as long as two years and made them liable for damages of up to $6,250 if they bolted... The islander's meager paychecks, barely more than minimum wage, were depleted by 'service charges.' ... The series was a novel joint venture between The Sun and another Tribune paper, The Orlando Sentinel. After (Walter F.) Roche (Jr.) discovered many of the workers and recruiters were in Florida, (Willoughby) Mariano joined him to complete the reporting on the series. Both papers published it simultaneously."

    Tags: Emancipation Proclamation; indentured servants; slavery; contracts; Pacific Island; labor; jobs; servitude; legal; liable; minimum wage

    By Walter F. Roche Jr. (Baltimore Sun);Willoughby Mariano (Orlando Sentinel)

    Baltimore Sun


  • Martha Jernegons's New Shoes

    American Prospect takes a look at the living-wage movement and living-wage legislation in Chicago and San Francisco.

    Tags: living-wage legislation; living-wage movements

    By David Moberg

    American Prospect


  • Special report: Forced labor in America

    This U.S.A Today investigative series reports on domestic worker abuse. The investigation compiles information on more than 140 cases of hidden exploitation. The main finding is that the private home is becoming the modern-day version of a sweatshop. The first part of the series reveals that "many immigrants hired to work as nannies and maids in the United States are instead being forced into virtual bondage, where some are beaten, barred from leaving and denied basic medical care." The victims' status is often illegal, and they are afraid to disclose the abuse for fear of being deported. Statistics quoted in the stories show that immigrant live-ins are generally paid much below minimum wages. The second part of the series looks at the uncertain justice that victims receive, and depicts their difficulties to achieve emotional recovery and financial independence.

    Tags: immigrants; immigration; domestic work; foreign-born residents; Justice Department; Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS); Human Rights Watch; lawyers; sexual assault; visas; police; courts; international organizations; CAR

    By Stephanie Armour

    USA Today (Arlington, Va.)


  • Living Wage Comes of Age

    The Nation examines the living-wage movement and its opposition throughout the U.S.A. The story describes the variety of tactics used by movement activists, from lobbying to postcard campaigns to economic impact studies. "Aware that living-wage laws have had a narrow scope, activists are now seeking to stretch their boundaries to cover more workers," reports the magazine. The article looks at how business communities have pushed local governments and state legislatures to pass laws banning local living-wage ordinances.

    Tags: East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE); workers; employment; jobs; living standard; subsidies; poverty; Living Age Resource Center; ACORN; city councils

    By Bobbi Murray

    The Nation