Everyone knows and remembers the Beanie Babies phase of the 1990s where millions of children in America and around the world started collecting stuffed animals all made by the same simple Ty brand.
However, how has Ty managed to stay on top today when virtually no Beanie Babies are being collected as before in the 1990s? The answer is surprisingly due to “raiteros”, a spanglish term created in Chicago for one who gives rides on a ferry or bus to work. Ty employs raiteros to recruit and ferry Mexican immigrant workers to the factories by charging them $8 for a ride. . They follow a strict policy of no $8, no work. Ty has created a system in which the immigrants bear the costs of paying for their own opportunity for work for the day.
Ty pays these hired hands as little as $6 per hour which is well below the $8.25 minimum wage in Chicago. the system works for them because there is such a surplus of these immigrant workers in the area eager and willing to pay $8 for a ferry, wake up and show as early as 4 am, just to work for the toy company for below minimum wage. If the immigrants make any sort of complaint, they lose their opportunity for work for the day and possibly for several others following.
How can this wage theft operation be allowed to function in the state of Illinois so unsupervised? The raiteros are employees of Ty and they are taking $8 from each worker every time they offer themselves for work for the day. This is a clear violation of the temporary labor laws in the state of Illinois. Several other companies that employed a similar system stated that they give their temporary employees freedom to get to the work site as they please, however Ty was making it nearly impossible for this to actually happen. If the immigrant workers wanted a secure spot on the assembly line for that day, they literally had to be on the ferry or bus where the primary recruiting occurred. Therefore, each of the temporary workers had to pay the $8 to be able to work that day.
Where the problem arises is the company’s definition of a temporary employee recruiter. In Ty’s case, they are fusing the transportation aspect of this with recruitment person, who is supposed to be a third party entity in the system. If their transportation means were legally a separate entity, then the transportation charge is justified. However, thats not the case.