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California Labor Commissioner Identifies $185 Million in Lost Wages

The LA Times reported that Labor Commissioner Julie Su has made a big difference in the identification of “unscrupulous businesses” who are cheating their workers out of their wages and that she “doesn’t back down from fights when she thinks that employers are cheating their workers.”

Two years into her job as California’s top Labor Commissioner and “enforcer," she is making good on her promise to get “a just day’s pay for a hard day’s work a reality in every workplace in California.”

She is submitting a report to Governor Brown today that documents her approach and the results she has achieved. According to the Times article, she has focused her efforts on those business sectors where new immigrants and first generation Americans work. Those businesses include construction, farming, food service, janitorial, car wash facilities and restaurants where those workers clean tables and wash the dishes for minimum wages.

According to a 2010 UCLA report on wage theft, as much as $26 million per week in wages is being withheld from workers in those vulnerable businesses.

The commissioner is being praised by business leaders for her targeting of those businesses where the theft is largest and for stopping the broad sweeps of businesses by enforcement agencies that were the hallmark of her predecessor.

Commissioner Su has a history of advocating for fair wages and stopping wage theft that goes back to her early career when she rescued 80 Thai seamstresses working 18 hours a day in a sweatshop in El Monte, California.

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