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tv   America Tonight  Al Jazeera  May 12, 2015 10:00pm-10:31pm EDT

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play host to an aids charity event on the 16th. that's it for al jazeera international hour. i'm antonio mora "america tonight" is next. see you again in an ^ see you again in an hour. on "america tonight" - a fate worse than living in a war zone. >> we feel that life in america difficult that the only choice they have is to return to iraq and afghanistan where their death is almost guaranteed "america tonight"s sheila macvicar with a look at the shocking conditions facing some of the most loyal defenders of america. and making work pay. the high price facing low income
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workers. >> we are saying rite here in the united states -- right here in the united states all kind of workers are sweated. an aspect of being sweated is being robbed of your wages. it's called wage theft - how employers are getting away with it the christopher putzel found it's happening all around us. thanks for joining us, i'm joie chen. making work pay. now, you wouldn't think that would be a problem, but across the country there has been a buzz since the "new york times" uncovered the short changing of manicurists in salons. this type of wage theft has been found in many other work places and cost workers $80 million. in new york governor como launched a clampdown on wage abuse. but christopher putzel uncovers the unpaid work of others.
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>> translation: i imagined the u.s. to be a free and democratic country. i expected to see money everywhere. this man is a father and husband and came to new york in 2001 for what he hoped was a better life. >> translation: it's not like i imagined. like china, u.s. has its dark sides. there's a lot of unfairness. it's a society with a lot of inequality. >> reporter: in 2006 he took a job as a driver with an independent taxi company, known as yes car. so in 2007 you were making about $500 a week is that right. your pay was $500. how many days a week were you working. six days? >> yes. >> six days a week. >> yes. >> reporter: about 12 hours a day. >> yes. >> reporter: do the maths. he was working many hours a week, earn $6.74. two years later yes car
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announced an increase in so-called protection fees, bringing it down to $5.55, below the legal wage. that is lower. in 2009 the minimum wage is $7.25. that is - that is a big difference. it looks like you're owed a lot of money. >> yes. >> translation: after a while i wasn't making money and i was basically working for free. the little i made was not enough to make ends met. >> reporter: he was not alone. in 2009 he and 20 other drivers filed a lawsuit for wage theft, and said the opener got away with underpaying them for years classifying them as independent contractors, instead of paying them as hourly workers. >>. the drivers cannot be called independent contractors, they
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are company employees with the night to minimum wage and overtime. >> reporter: joanne moon is a director of the coalition for minimum wage. a lot of times thing sweat shots, and here in the united states all kinds of workers are sweated. one aspect of being sweated is being robbed of your wages. you can talk about raising the minimum wage to $20 an hour, $30 an hour. it will not be real unless the law is enforced. >> for the agency that is supposed to enforce the law, they are struggling to keep up. we are at the department of labour that received thousands of claims from employees saying employees stole wages from them. because the department is so
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backlogged it can take month, years for the claims to be investigated. we wanted to speak to someone from the state. deputy secretary alphonso davids would only speak by capital. we asked why this case was delayed. >> a practical reality of litigation is it takes time. i suspect the case you referenced is completely outside of the department of labour and in court. the only part of the process that the department of labour controls is the investigation statement. after they issue their determination, they have no control over the process. why, because an employer could appeal. >> translation: workers never win in court. employers have the money and can afford the best lawyers. bosses always win, workers have to take the abuse. >> reporter: we wanted to ask tony low the owner of yes car about the wages. >> hey, is this yes car
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services. >> yes. >> is tony low here. >> he no more here. >> does he work here. >> no, he doesn't. >> is there a manager i can speak with? >> one second. >> moments later, this man appears. he would only identify himself as wallace. who are you looking for? >> tony low. >> he's been out two or three years. >> had you sure. >> he's been gone for years. >> two or three years ago. >> reporter: i asked what his drivers are making. he wouldn't specify but said they are paid as contractors. >> we are a taxi cab, no one work for us. >> you classify them as independent contractors, the drivers. >> yes. >> the department of labour says it's unaware of wage theft cases involving drivers working forriest car. we found two liftings for tony
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low. selling the business is a common tactic to avoid wages. >> it's legal to shut down and open up another business. you just pay a few hundred dollars. there's not much risk involved actually, because the law allows them to do this and that to hide and hide behind the subcontracting and franchise system and say it's not my responsibility. the rick is little. that's why i think so many employees and businesses do it rob workers. >> six years after pursuing yes cars he has a new job. he makes enough to cover rent and support the family. he can't shake the feeling he's been robbed. do you regret coming to united
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states? >> reporter: america is not heaven if you were in china making a good living i would tell you not to come here. america has its open oppression and abuses. it's hard to live here. >> reporter: what is the hardest part about taking care of your family? >> it's all for my family. it's my responsibility to take care of the family. >> reporter: did you think it would be this difficult? > no. life in china was better "america tonight"s christopher putzel joins us. now, you know, following up on all this it seems from your reporting that this is happening in all kind of industries all kind of work places yet it took
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the investigation into the situation with manicurists in new york, that has provoked so much reaction over the country. >> sure. a lot of women relate to getting their nails done in the salon. it's no surprise that there was a lot of pressure to act swiftly, which he did. there'll be a multitask force in place to inspect salons, and make sure that everyone is complying with labour laws, and what is important is that workers know their rights. there are so many thousands of people working, especially here in new york city that don't speak english, are doing menial labour jobs and being taken advantage of governor cuomo cutting in place another ask force to take up an issue that has been approached before with previous task forces. seems like it will take more than that to get the job done, for a man that has been fighting
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this for years. >> that's true. that's the big challenge. the new york department of labour has 14,000 backlog cases, down from 17,000. it's a tremendous amount of cases that are being reviewed and trying to get the money back to people. it's a lot of work. the governor announced last year that they recovered 30 million in stolen wages and returned the money to two workers. it's a huge uphill battle and a big challenge ahead. really as you said. it's a lot to do with education and bringing forward the information to workers. you can say it's a minimum wage but if no one knows that's what they are supposed to get. what good is a minimum wage. >> that is true. that's why what is important is that workers become educated about what their rites are. a lot of these people do not speak english they are easily
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taken advantage of do not know their right, and when you have that perfect storm, people will take advantage of it. >> "america tonight"s christopher putzel for us. next - hitting the breaks. on demand car services like uber and the step some communities are taking to bring them to a halt. >> later conditions so bad they'd rather return to a war zone. veterans of a fight to save afghanistan. afghanistan. sheila macvicar on why more isn't done to protect them a sweet deal sinks, why florida lawmakers soured on a deal that could be key to saving the everglades. that's on
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in our fast-forward segment - viva los angeles, 41 million tourists pouring into sin city, many had cabs to services. then uber came in, and the competition is trying to slam on the breaks. >> reporter: not one now taxi company has opened in las vegas since 1991. if mr swarts has his way, uber will not. >> uber is unsafe. >> swarts owns three cab companies, 20% of the market share, and says uber doesn't have to comply with the same rules he must, involving things
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like car maintenance, background checks. uber likes to say that they are a technology company, rather than a transportation company. do you buy na? >> i don't guy that at all. they are a transportation company. they should comply with the same set of rules. uber came into the state and violated the law. >> reporter: uber is used to getting its way legal or not. it's rolled into 41 states, 300 cities world wide. many arguing counter laws do in the apply. why? we tried to find out. >> here it's people using personal vehicles an application to connect with people, and maybe 10 hours a week they use it to give you or someone else a ride. >> the fight over aboriginerr -- uber has mooedved to capitol hill.
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>> reporter: how much lobbyists and consultants do you have working on the issue? >> i think it's about 10. we have to compete with uber which is 16. fast-forward to a new roll of dice for uber, speeding through the legislature clearing the way for uber and other ride-share services. drivers face background checks security and have to pay a tax. next a lukewarm welcome - they risked all to serve our soldiers, but the veterans from the we are in afghanistan found few benefits after their services. we look into why. also - tapped in and fired up. wednesday on "america tonight". who is targeted by the n.s.a. phone tracking and why it may be a warping to you, too. >> are you being paranoid? >> no i'm not paranoid. i'm a mid western girl from the middle of iowa
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michael oku on what the n.s.a. is recording and how it's used - wednesday on "america tonight".
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afghanistan remains a mission yet to be accomplished. president obama slow to draw
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down keeping u.s. forces there until next year with the shaky nation needing support. american soldiers tell us they in turn, counted on the support of afghans who stood to protect them in perilous situations. in the aftermoth of their service, serious questions about what our nation owes them. their story from "america tonight"s sheila macvicar to the american soldiers this man was kk a young afghan just out of high school who signed up in 2007 at camp phoenix in kabul to work as an interpreter for the u.s. military. >> we called him ww champion. >> reporter: why did you decide to work for the americans? >> on that time these people living in their families why you not join them. >> reporter: for him that would
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lead to seven years of service, sometimes on dangerous missions. >> did you come under fire. >> we saw a lot of ambushes, face to face fighting with the taliban >> reporter: he said he kept his job a secret from everyone but close family. as he worked with the americans in villages day after day, many afghans came to recognise him. >> my father received a call from a taliban member from the district saying "tell your son he is a problem, he's telling the americans where to attack." the threat hit home when his room-mate, a translator for the u.s. military was kidnapped and beheaded. >> reporter: do you think it may happen to you? >> why not. am i different to him? no. once you on the list working for the u.s. army you are a tart whether you work for five years one month one day.
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>> recognising the danger to afghans, pathway was created. after years of delays, finally 9,000 afghans and their families were admitted last year, including this man. kahn thought his trouble would be over. he was promised housing, employment and other services by the state department. instead, he found himself at his wit's end, unable to find a job or pay for basic needs. >> i thought oh god, what i going to do. i didn't have the rent car diaper for the baby. one day i was close to put myself under a truck, like because i was getting hopeless. >> reporter: afghans we talked to said the state department aid was cut off after a few months
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before they could provide for themselves. >> they are brought here to languish in pov ert which, or brought to feel that life in america is so difficult that the only choice they have is to return to iraq and afghanistan, where their death is almost guaranteed. >> matt mounded no one left behind an organization that helps african and iraqi terms resettle in the united states. zeller a former intelligence officer says he came to understand the depth of their problems when he tried to help his own translator who he credits with saving his loif after his patrol came under attack in afghanistan. it was april 28, 2008 i thought i was going to die here. this is where i day. all i remember is the force hitting me knocking me down
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and the unmistakable souped of an ak-47 by my head. i said "who are you?" he says "i'm a translator. and i look past him. that's when they saw the bodies of two guy that is he'd shot and kill. two guys would shoot me in the back or back away. >> there's no question he came to saviour life. >> i found out in the five year struggle that i was one of five americans that he ultimately saved in combat. all from different tours. as a result. he was put on the top of the hit list. people i would see his story on the news saying that guy saved my life in 2009 2006. what do you need me to help out?
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>> eventually he made it to the u.s. and lives in northern virginia near zeller. he spends his free time volunteering with no one left behind. today the team is picking up furniture donated by local churches to deliver to afghan families. >> some families arrived last week. they have nothing. they only came with a suitcase per person. >> they like this one. >> yes. >> we come on weekends and load the trucks and deliver to them. >> reporter: the u.s. government's policy is to treat these afghans like any refugees. providing 90 days of assistance contracting, housing and other services. for aid months they are eligible
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for food stamps and medicaid. >> there's one or two coaches, a couple of dishes. and they charge them money, we our organization no one left behind, we do not charge them money. >> he's been there for a year okay. >> reporter: zeller says the resettlement agencies are overburdened underfunded and most families receive few real services. >> i'm talking about a guy that sets out a trap to catch the mice that runs over his wife and kids. usually there's six dead mice on the sticky pad every night. >> the park view apartments in riverdale are home to many afghan sib families. ash mall said he and his wife and kids have been living here for six months in an apart.
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infsted with mice. >> in this picture there's rats infested in the carpet. you see the black drops from a rat. >> reporter: he says he has applied for nearly 1,000 jobs, but is yet to find permanent employment. unable to pay his rent. he is afraid of being evicted. "america tonight" spoke with larry bartlett. director of the office of refugee admissions at the state department. >> there are instances where people had difficulty adjusting and felt so abandoned that they made the choice to go back to afghanistan, and one case we know of that led to death. >> it's a tragedy, one that we don't like to hear about. we know for afghans did iraqis people have returned making the dransition to the u.s. is not easy. these are people that served
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underexceptional circumstances. many did what amounts to multiple tours of combat duty. are they entitled to something else, are they entitled to be treated as veterans. >> congress when they legislated the programme decided they were entitled to come to the united states to receive benefits and an opportunity to be safe, and number two create a life for themselves and their families. each of the former translators has a binder full of accommodations and letters. it's these recommendations that should help the refugees get jobs. the reality, says the translators, is those doing the hiring have no interest in their service, or the help they gave the u.s. military during the long war. >> you have the recommendations of the offices you serve with. >> does it make a difference?
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>> doesn't make a difference, it's a piece of paper why should the afghans get anything more than anyone else. there are people that immigrate here every day, that come from all kinds of circumstances. to me they are veterans and the people i serve with they are veterans. they bled next to us died alongside of us. they have more than earnt their spot in this country and earnt more than a welcome to america good luck, god speed and a kick in the areas. as for sadr kahn he may be one of the lacy ones. -- lucky once. an american family raised money on his behalf. >> they came to help me. i hope to return the favour. >> through afghan friend he found two full-time jobs as a security guard and pizza deliverman. just enough to survive.
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for others unless there is more of a helping hand they may choose the high risk of murder back home rather than continue to fight america's cold welcome indeed difficult choices. that is "america tonight". tell us what you think at talk to us on twitter or facebook, and come back. we'll have more of "america tonight" tomorrow. breaking news - an amtrak train from washington to new york has derailed near philadelphia. we are getting reports of dozens of injuries. so far no word of fatalities. self cars from train number 188 which again was headed from
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washington to new york appeared to have left the tracks. according to local reports the front of the train was going into a turn when it began to shake. video shows firefighters and other at the scene of the crash. emergency crews set up a staging area a couple of miles from the site. lisa stark long covered the transportation industry and joins us by phone. lisa, what will the n.t.s.b. be doing now, these are alarming pictures. >> they are, indeed. the national transport safety board is gathering information on the accident. there's no formal decision to launch a go-team investigators. i would be shocked if they didn't launch a team. it's a major collision of an amtrak trin on the busiest of amtrak said to the north-east corridor. popular trains from washington to new york and boston. at the m