U.S. oilfield workers are facing a big problem, and it’s not just the depressed prices in the worldwide oil markets.
Those who have jobs, especially the lowest level and dangerous jobs in the oilfields, are at high risk of being stiffed in a variety of ways. And they’ve started to fight back.
Five years ago, when the price of oil was high and fracking operations were ramping up throughout Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Colorado and other states, there were plentiful stories about oilfield workers, many with minimal experience, pulling down six figure incomes. But even though the industry is known for paying high wages, the big paydays are more often due to the total number of hours worked, sometimes with workweeks exceeding 100 hours.
And these workers are very likely to be victims of “wage theft,” a denial of wages by employers wrongly classifying them as exempt from overtime, or paying them flat salaries regardless of the number of hours worked, or reneging on production bonuses.