Thursday, December 17, 2015

RU: Labor Exploitation for Jesus: Part Fifteen

We are finally nearing the end of the Application Form for RU: School of Disciples.    So far, RU's collected personal identification information, legal information, health information and previous employment information.

They have a section on a background check that matches closely the background check run by the school districts I have worked for.  The two major differences are that the background check used for teachers costs ~100 dollars and involves being fingerprinted by the local police department.  The RU background check costs $40.00 and is limited to what information was provided by the applicant.

The drug screen form is similar to one I signed for an industry job with one little change:

I'm pretty sure the legality of the document is based more on the signature of the applicant than the fact that RU is paying for them.

Notice that RU never asks for permission to see the results of the drug test - that's an interesting oversight.

This next part is a doozy that I didn't see coming.

RU requires their students to apply for food stamps.

That's really fucked up - especially since the patients/clients are ineligible based on the amount of wages they should be earning.

Why should students in RU's program be ineligible for food stamps?

From the USDA website: the gross monthly income eligibility maximum for a family of one is $1,276.

Illinois' minimum wage is $8.25 per hour.  According to RU, patients are working a minimum of 40 hours a week which is 160 hours a month.  160 hours x $8.25 dollars per hour = $1,320 gross income per week.  In the previous post, I argued that most of the patient / students probably earn more than minimum wage, so RU's fleecing the government.

How much could RU earn?  

From the USDA website:
 - Take the net monthly income for the family unit and multiply by .3.  This is the amount of money a household is expected to pay for food.
     - Since RU students/patients make $0, $0.00 x 0.3 = $0.00
-Subtract the maximum monthly allotment limit from the expected household payment to get the amount of food stamps.
     - $194 is the maximum for 1 person.  $194 - $0 = $194 dollars monthly.

That's $1,164 in six months.

Follow up question - Do the patients/students declare themselves as a family of one - as I did - or do they count their dependent spouses and children?

Let's run the math for Josh Duggar if RU required him to declare Anna and his four kids. He's still making $0.00 - but the maximum allotment for a family of six is $925 per month.

 Josh's monthly EBT would be $925 per month or $5,550 dollars in six months.

I think I just figured out why they wanted the age and marital status of all of the kids of the clients/patients.   Fuckers.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

RU: Labor Exploitation for Jesus: Part Fourteen

Honestly, I never expected this series to get this long - but the more I read about this program the more freaked out I got.  In fact, my husband argues that signing up for RU's Schools of Discipleship should be legally admissible as a sign of mental incompetence.

Today, we look at the work information that RU wants prior to acceptance.

Previous Employment:

  1. Notice the conspicuous absence of the standard box under each job that asks "Can we contact this employer?"  I don't want RU to call anyone I've ever worked with...ever....for any reason.
  2. RU doesn't seem to care about length of employment either.  
  3. What do you do if you have more than three previous jobs?  I've had nine paying jobs since I was 16.
Skills Section:
  1. Later in the application, RU argues that all of the work completed during the ministry is similar to an unpaid internship.  Without going into all of the problems with their interpretation of an unpaid internship, the first legal requirement of an unpaid internship is that the intern is learning new skills that can be applied to other employment opportunities.  As such, if you have any of these skills before the program, you can't do an unpaid internship to learn the same skills.
  2. Let's do some math on how much money RU is actually making on each "student volunteer".  To find salaries/wages, I used for median salaries in 61101 which is the Rockford, IL zipcode.  
Example One: A woman who working in the shipping/orders department for 40 hours a week, completes 2 hours of chores that the facility should have paid wages for and 5 hours of janitorial work on Saturdays.
  • Median salary for shipping clerk in Rockford, IL is $30,995 per year - so that would be approximately $15,497.50 in six months.  
  • Minimum wage for 2 hours per week which is 48 hours in six months at $8.25/hr = $396
  • Median salary for janitors is $13.00 per hour for 120 hours in six months = $1,560
Total wages to RU: $17,453.50

Example Two: A woman works as an office assistant for 40 hours a week + the same 7 hours of extra work in Example One.

  • Office assistant median wage is $19.00.  Six months of 40 hour weeks is 960 hours for $18,240.
  • Seven hours of additional work across 6 months = $1,956
Total wages to RU: $20,196.00

Example Three: A woman works in the North Love Christian School or College as a substitute or "specials" teacher.  
  • The first quartile* (25%) hourly wage for teachers in Rockford is $22.00 for $21,220
  • Seven hours of additional work across 6 months = $1,956
Total wages to RU: $23,185

Example Four: A man works as an intermediate level carpenter or auto mechanic for 45 hours a week with 2 hours of additional chores.
  • Carpenter II median hourly is $23.00 per hour for 960 hours for $22,080.
  • 120 hours of over-time for $34.50 per hours for $4,140.
  • 48 hours of minimum wage chores is $396.
Total wages to RU: $26,616

Example Five: A man works as an intermediate level electrician for 45 hours a week with 2 hours of chores.
  • Electrician II median hourly is $27.00 per hour for 960 for $25,920.
  • Overtime wages: $4,860
  • Chores wages: $396
Total wages to RU: $31,176

RU gets a good amount of cash from each of their "students".  In addition, RU Ministry manages to avoid having to pay the matching taxes and workmen's compensation that would be required if the jobs done by "students/patients" were done by employees.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

RU: Labor Exploitation for Jesus: Part Thirteen

Now that RU: Schools of Discipleship has collected enough personal and legal information to steal your identity or mess with your life, they move on to collecting health information.

If RU was an employer, they would be allowed to ask if you can perform the job you are applying for.

If RU was a medical facility, they would ask detailed questions about your health after accepting you as a patient.

At this point, remember:

  • all information is being collected prior to acceptance into the program
  • RU has no written policy on who has access to your records or how those records will be managed if you are accepted or rejected from the program.
  • At least one current staff member has been in prison for unspecified charges.
Can anyone who has a chronic condition fit their appointment schedule and medications in the space provided?  I know I'd be way out of space....

Interesting fact: If you are "required" to volunteer for anything, you are not volunteering any more.
  1. I don't trust these goofballs enough to give them a list of prescription drugs I am using right now, let alone a list of drugs that were abused with dates and length of time I used them.  Minor annoyance: they spelled length as "legth".
  2. I can live with the question about hospitalization for mental illness.  The details of when, why, where and discharge date are none of their damn business on an application.
  3. I can live with the therapist question.  The dates and reasons are none of their business.
  4. The list of health issues is both strangely over-detailed and missing things at the same time.
  • How many adults have NEVER had a toothache or backache?
  • Leukemia is a type of cancer.
  • "Kidney, Thyroid, and Prostate" are names of organs not disorders.
  • HIV is missing; AIDS is the point where someone's immune function is impaired from HIV.
  • Odd omissions: asthma, allergies, skin disorders, sleep disorders, and muscular disorders.

Interesting fact: The 45 hours per week is work at RU ministries and outside employers.  They forgot to count the ~30 minutes a day you spend doing facility chores that students/patients are supposed to get paid for in Illinois.  It's more like a 48 hour work week.

Why did it take 5 pages of personal information BEFORE the disclosure of RU being "not a medical facility?"

If this is not a medical facility AND they will provide no medical assistance, why do they need all this medical information?

NO non-medical facility should be involved in treating eating disorders or people who are currently physically addicted to a substance.  Anorexia has the highest fatality rate of mental health disorders.  Some drugs are safe to stop taking "cold turkey" although the process is miserable.  Some drugs - like alcohol and some frequently abused prescription drugs - change brain chemistry in a way that makes going "cold turkey" life threatening.

"Have you ever thought about or tried to commit suicide?"  I don't think that question is asking what they want it to since everyone has thought about suicide as a topic or a word at some point in their life.  

My two cents: Do you want to give these people a list of your current and former family members, how to contact them and the information that you had a STD at some point in the past?  Do you trust these people to use this information responsibly? 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

RU: Labor Exploitation for Jesus - Part Twelve

We've moved on to the Complete Application portion of RU Homes.  So far, you've coughed up enough information for your identity to be stolen (name, address, birth date, SSN), and plenty of information that could be used to steal passwords and/or use as emotional manipulation (current and previous marriages, children's name, age and marital status.)

As previously, red/orange marks are for information that has potential to be misused while blue is something I find funny or ironic.

Today's theme: Legal information that RU Homes wants.

Have you ever been arrested or in jail?  Where? Charges? Time Served?

Oh, freaking no.  Arrests and being in jail are not a sign of guilt; many people have been arrested or been in jail without having done anything wrong.  

Why would RU Homes want this information?  Well, emotional manipulation springs to mind - or blackmail.

Status of supervision, parole, probation:

I don't have a problem with that question per se; the problem is that people who are on supervision and parole are generally required to stay in a tight geographic area.  I doubt they are going to be allowed to relocate for RU Homes.

Name and contact information of parole/probation officer:

I wouldn't give that information over either - before or after being accepted to the program.  So far, RU has information that can be used to embarrass patients.

 Contacting a parole or probation officer with a negative behavior report can have negative repercussions on personal freedom.

 Imagine a parole officer getting calls that Jane Smith has received two major infractions during her program.  Now, hopefully the parole officer would ask about the cause because this could be as minor as "occult or New Age behaviors" or talking with a guy.  On the other hand, a parole officer could mistakenly assume that a major infraction means Jane is using drugs again or has tried to escape.  Bluntly, turning this over is giving RU a free rein to threaten to have you returned to jail or prison.

Details of upcoming court cases:
Is RU Homes a lawyer?  No.  They don't need to know the details - except perhaps dates needed in court - in writing.  

You may be obligated to reschedule court dates when accepted to the program.

Uh.....seriously?  Does RU Homes expect the US Court System to accommodate them?  Good luck with that.

Do you have to register your residence with any entity whatsoever? Y/N

Everyone over the age of 18 should answer "Yes" since you would need to register as either a resident of Rockford for voting purposes OR report your long-term absence from your home voting precinct to get absentee ballots.  After all, any student/patient who has not lost voting rights due to a felony conviction has the right to be involved in the political process.

Answering "Yes" may or may not disqualify you from the home:

A few thoughts:
  • While men and women are theoretically separated during this program, I would be extremely uncomfortable being in a program with men or women who had been convicted of violent crime or sexual misconduct.    The program seems understaffed to be sure of patient safety.
  • Who is doing the screening?  Is there a preset list of convictions within a timeframe that excludes people or does a "I found Jesus" story outweigh an aggravated assault charge?

Driver's license information:
You can have it when you explain why you need it.  Since presumably I won't be driving during the program, I have no idea why they need it.

State photo ID and SSN card/birth certificate are required for entrance:

You do often have to show a photo ID at a hospital, but I've never needed to show an SSN/birth certificate in a hospital.

Of course, I've needed both to fill out my I-9 for employment purposes - but that makes no sense.  All of the people at the RU Schools of Discipleship are "volunteers" or "unpaid interns".  Either way, they have NO reason to turn in an I-9.

Questions about Government Assistance:
Why on Earth would RU Homes need this information - unless they can take that funding from you....

This is sketchy.....

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

RU: Labor Exploitation for Jesus - Part Eleven

According to the application process on RU: Schools of Discipleship website, you need to read the handbook, fill out an application, then fill out a supporter agreement.  Once you've completed all of that, you send all of the information in and RU calls you to discuss going to the school.

My main concern with the application is that it asks for information that is far too sensitive and/or can be used for identity theft long before accepting you into the program.  There is no statement - anywhere - about how they handle the data before, during, or after the program or what they do with the information of people who are rejected from the program.

As with the handbook, the screenshots are taken from the application.  I've marked areas that give me great concern in red or orange. They correspond with bolded sections. Things marked in blue are simply amusing or contradictory and have a italicized heading.

Social Security Number:

  1. NEVER give you your social security number blindly.  With your address, birth date and SSN, RU Ministries - or any member of their staff - can steal your identity.  
  2. RU Ministries shouldn't need your SSN anyways.  
  • Since all of the work is "volunteer" or "like an unpaid internship", RU shouldn't need to report earnings to the IRS or Social Security agency.
  • Since RU isn't a medical facility, they don't need your SSN for any kind of record-keeping; plus medical facilities haven't used SSNs for record-keeping in years.
Business Phone:
  1. Nope.  You can contact me at home or through a cell phone.  You may not have access to my employment number since I don't trust you to keep personal information safe.  Plus, that's some primo blackmail information as in "If you don't do what the program says, we will call your job and tell them you are addicted to ______".
Can you read and write? Y/N
  1. It's a fair question - but one that should be asked over the phone in the interview.  If someone is functionally illiterate and is having another person fill out this paperwork, why would they circle N?
The ENTIRE section about Monthly Support:
  1. What monthly support?  It's a $7,500 flat fee + your wages while in the program.  
  2. Why would I give you this information before you've accepted me into the program?
  3. I would accept the question "Are you able to pay for the program and incidentals? Y/N" because that's all the information they actually need.
Emergency Contact Information:
  1. Interesting fact:  When making contact with people during an emergency, speed matters. My emergency contact information for my spouse or parents always consisted of every phone number that they could be reached at - not their home address.   A letter doesn't cut it.

There's an odd typo I just noticed: I doubt RU wants people to skip section III; that's legal information.  Proof-reading seems to be a lost art at RU.

Detailed information on Spouse:
  1. There is NO reason for them to collect the address, phone number, age, occupation and marriage date of your spouse on an application.
  2. If accepted, the phone number and address (if something is going to be sent there) could be useful.
  3. I don't know why they want to know your spouse's age, occupation and/or marriage date - but it's handy information if you want to steal identities or apply pressure to a patient who is asking too many questions.
Detailed information on children:
  1. I have no idea why they want that information.  I've never been asked that on any medical, employment or volunteer form before - let alone the age and marital status of each kid.
Give brief information on previous marriages:
  1. The information has to be very brief because you have less than an inch to fill out any information.  What would you write?  "I got married; it didn't work; we got divorced."

My mom worked in Loss Prevention at a large retail store for 15 years.  If I filled out this part of the application so far and sent it in, she'd go berserk because I'd be giving enough information to ruin my credit for the rest of my life.

RU Ministries: Just Say NO!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

RU: Labor Exploitation for Jesus: Part Ten

This is the last post from the handbook!

  • For starters, Hebrews 12 is about remaining steadfast when life gets hard and viewing the normal hardships of life as becoming more like Jesus. 
  • Things that are legal to do in hospitals in the USA that will get you punished in RU:
    • Carrying cash, cash equivalents and bartering
    • Occult and new-age type behavior (What does that mean?  Would I get a major offense for doing yoga, praying the Rosary or making an Advent tree?)
    • Fraternization with the opposite sex.
    • Breaching the "Chain of Command" or complaining.
  • What does "loss of all privileges" mean?  The patients don't have any privileges to take away unless phone calls are counted.
  • When do any of the patients have 10 extra hours of time to do anything?  They have NO free time built into the schedule.  Are "service hours" extra working hours?  When can they do that?  How can they do that? 
  • It's amazing how a problem action by the student ends up bringing in more cash for RU - e.g. students work more hours and their wages are sent back to RU.
  • I find this section more scary than the major offenses.  For any "minor offense", you end up doing more work for RU.   Let's think about some minor offenses listed so far:
    • Not making your bed properly.
    • Not wearing a belt if you are a man or having an untucked shirt.
    • Having an unauthorized photo in your room
    • Showing any non-happy emotion.
  • I spent years in Catholic schools where having your shirt tucked in was paramount - but you never got a detention because of it.  
  • Think about this:  
    • If you have your shirt untucked twice, you are punished by RU getting four hours of your wages. 
    •  If you have your shirt untucked a third time, you get 10 hours of discipleship training.
    • Make it to a fourth time and RU starts racking up 10 hours of labor wages + an extra month of wages.
My concerns:
  • Notice the lack of timeline for dealing with any complaints.  You can fill out a "Complaint Form" and the staff can handle it that day - or in two months.  Either way, you can't tell anyone about it - that's the outcome of "general complaining = major violation".
  • Notice the fact that the student/patient cannot be present when the person in authority is confronted with the "alleged" offense.  You have no idea what the steward said to the dean or intervention mentor - just the outcome.
  • Procedural question: How do you give the written grievance to the non-offending steward without interacting with them?  Remember, you can't have a conversation or fraternization with anyone of the opposite gender.
  • Notice that you have to fill out a complaint form to go around the steward - which you have to turn into the steward....who has no timeline to deal with it.....and could bury it.
  • The entire process pits patients needs against the needs of a group of people who work together.  It's really hard to be genuinely objective towards your coworkers which is why there is generally outside oversight.
  • There is no outside oversight.  You have no appeals to an outside entity or people not involved in RU.