June 26, 2022 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Los Angeles to Move Forward with Wage Theft Ordinance

wage theft
The Los Angeles City Council voted July 1 to direct the City Attorney to draft a Wage Theft Ordinance. (Thinkstock)

An attempt to criminalize wage theft almost five years ago fell by the wayside, but the two councilmen representing Los Angeles’ Westside hope the second try is a charm. The Los Angeles City Council took a step forward July 1 in unanimously approving a direction to draft an ordinance to criminalize and enforce wage theft.

If ultimately approved, the planned ordinance would make it illegal for employers to avoid paying its workers their respective wages.

The City Attorney is expected to coordinate with the Los Angeles Police Dept. (LAPD), UCLA Downtown Labor Center, and National Day Laborer Organizing Network to draft a Wage Theft Ordinance

Councilmen Gil Cedillo, Mike Bonin, and Paul Koretz sponsored the motion.

Koretz said Los Angeles is probably the “wage theft capital of the whole country.”

“Wage theft exists where employees are illegally not paid overtime, where employees are illegally not paid a minimum wage,” Koretz said, adding there are also situations where employees might be asked to do more off the clock. “This is a disastrous situation.”

The councilman who represents areas such as Century City and Westwood added the janitorial industry is one where wage theft commonly occurs. Specifically, Koretz said office building management firms or operators would contract out for janitorial services at the lowest bid possible. Oftentimes, Koretz said, contracts are awarded at amounts where the janitorial firms would not be able to pay its workers minimum wage for the services to be performed at the contracted office building.

“This is something absolutely have to take on,” Koretz said of the proposed Wage Theft Ordinance. “We protect not only those are the lowest earning workers among us, but we also protect our economy. Those wages go right into the economy and pay for critical goods and services that they can otherwise barely afford.”

Several speakers addressed the council during public testimony, expressing the council vote in favor of the motion or sharing an anecdote of how “wage theft” impacted them personally.

Rose Marie Molina, who is the strategic manager of the Clean Car Wash Campaign, told the council many workers at car washes in the City are “no-wage” employees, surviving solely off tips.

“Every week in L.A., $26 million is stolen from workers by bad employers,” Molina told the council. “That’s $1.4 billion a year. It’s acceptable that today, in Los Angeles, there are workers who aren’t even considered low-wage. They are considered ‘no-wage’ workers. The system is broken.”

A car wash employee who addressed the council in Spanish said he would only earn about $35 in an 11-hour workday.

“The working conditions [at my] company are terrible,” Carlos Cuestas, an eight-year employee with Hollywood Car Wash, told the council. “It is not fair that this company is exploiting workers.”

Another speaker told the council some employers have taken retaliatory members against some workers who filed wage claims with community organizations.

“The system is failing all Californians,” Tia Koonse, a policy research manager with the UCLA Labor Center, told the council, claiming there are more than 750,000 low wage employees within Los Angeles alone. “Los Angelenos experience more wage theft than any other city in the country. We’re failing Angelenos and we can do better.”

Koonse suggested the path to “do better” is through consistent law enforcement.

According to the motion presented to council members, a UCLA study found 26 percent of low-wage workers were not paid minimum wage. Also according to the UCLA study cited in the motion, as many as 76 percent of workers were not paid a legal overtime rate by their respective employers.

“This same study also found that those who worked off-the-clock, 70 percent received no pay for the work they completed and 12 percent of workers who received tips had some stolen by their employer,” the motion stated, adding 43 percent of workers who complained about wages or tried to create a union were either suspended, fired, docked pay, or threatened to be reported to immigration officials.

The final vote was 13-0 in favor of the motion, with Councilmen Jose Huizar and Tom LaBonge both not present.

With the vote, the City Attorney’s office will look into drafting a Wage Theft Ordinance and bringing it back to the council for a vote.

Related Posts

Affordable housing Planned for Culver City Methodist church property

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

95 units of housing, new church and preschool planned for 4644 Sepulveda Boulevard property By Dolores Quintana A development at...

Construction Begins for 50-Unit Palms Development

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

Six-story development underway near the intersection of National and Canfield By Dolores Quintana Helio has begun construction on a new...

Brentwood Oasis Mansion Lists for $48 Million

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

Bundy Drive property hits market By Dolores Quintana The Brentwood Oasis, a behemoth of a mansion owned by billionaire hedge...

The Los Angeles Real Estate Market May Finally Be Slowing Down

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

Real estate sales drop 21 percent in past year By Dolores Quintana The Los Angeles real estate market is showing...

Redevelopment Complete of Former Westside Pavilion Macy’s

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

Developer announces complete of West End at Pico and Overland Developer HLW, on behalf of GPI Companies and in partnership...

LA City Council Approves Bicycle ‘Chop Shop’ Ban

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Bonin one of three dissenting votes on law prohibiting individuals from assembling or disassembling bicycles in public.  By Sam Catanzaro...

Car-Free Weekends Return to Downtown Culver City This Weekend

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Main Street between Culver Boulevard and city limits will become car free this weekend A Downtown Culver City street will...

Column: LA Election Results Remain Tight, Close & Competitive Come the Fall Runoffs!

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

By Nick Antonicello The results for the June 7th Primary continue to trickle-in with not much change:  In that special...

Vegan Burger Spot Opens First SoCal Location in Culver City

June 22, 2022

June 22, 2022

Stand-Up Burgers now open at at 4114 Sepulveda Blvd By Dolores Quintana Stand Up Burgers has opened a new location...

The Book Jewel Celebrates Pride Month as a Community

June 22, 2022

June 22, 2022

Westchester bookstore hosting series of events this month The Book Jewel in Westchester is hosting several events this month that...

Culver Closet Seeks More Volunteers

June 22, 2022

June 22, 2022

Volunteers are needed to organize the new location for the Culver Closet, which is located in the Academy bungalow in...

Brush Fire Burns Over Three Acres in Ballona Wetlands

June 21, 2022

June 21, 2022

Saturday evening fire seems to be have been sparked by SUV, officials say By Sam Catanzaro A brush fire burned...

Pico Boulevard Development Gets New Look

June 18, 2022

June 18, 2022

Development at 6116-6144 W. Pico Boulevard would include 125 units By Dolores Quintana The design for a proposed mixed-use apartment...

Westside Families Earning Upwards of $190,000 Can Qualify for Mortgage Relief

June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022

State expands California Mortgage Relief Program By Sam Catanzaro Westside families earning upwards of $190,000 can qualify for mortgage relief...

Progress Underway at Culver City Senior Housing Development

June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022

11141 Washington Boulevard project begins vertical phase of construction By Dolores Quintana A new senior housing complex has begun its...