UCLA study finds widespread violation of minimum wage and overtime laws. Large pool of illegal immigrants and predatory business strategies in garment and building sectors are major factors.
Los Angeles Times
By Patrick J. McDonnell
January 6, 2010
Low-wage workers in the Los Angeles area are even more likely than their counterparts in New York and Chicago to suffer violations of minimum wage, overtime and other labor laws, according to a new UCLA study being released today.
The study found that almost nine out of 10 low-wage workers surveyed in Los Angeles County had recently experienced some form of pay-related workplace violation, or "wage theft." Almost one in three reported being paid less than the minimum wage and nearly 80% said they had not received legally mandated overtime.
"We knew these violations were happening, but we never really imagined it was as prevalent as this study demonstrates," said Ruth Milkman, a sociologist and principal author of the study, conducted by UCLA's Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.
The authors described the study as a ground-breaking effort to quantify the plight of a vulnerable, largely immigrant population that is often missed in standard surveys.
Los Angeles employees also reported working off the clock, not receiving proper meal and rest breaks, being forced to work despite injuries and facing retaliation from employers for complaining or trying to start a union. Almost one in five Los Angeles restaurant employees and others receiving tips reported that employers or supervisors illegally pocketed all or part of their tips...
"In nearly every case," the study stated, "the violation rates are higher in Los Angeles than in New York and Chicago."
The reason for the pervasiveness of abuses here, the authors said, is that certain sectors of the Los Angeles economy, including garment manufacturing and residential construction, have embraced business strategies that involve widespread violation of labor laws. Although all three cities have large immigrant populations, few low-wage workers in Los Angeles have union representation, and many work in service industries or in apparel manufacturing. But proponents of immigration restrictions argue that the very presence of so many illegal immigrants creates a climate of exploitation...
Learn more on what you can do to help challenge this injustice.
An Islamic perspective on workers' rights.
- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html