The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Recovering Stolen Wages

Sep 14, 2015

Early this month, a group of workers protested wage theft outside the California Cartage Company, a transportation and storage company. In California, hundreds of thousands of workers don’t get their breaks, or they receive less than minimum wage, or they don’t get paid for overtime, or they simply are not paid at all. Los Angeles is “The Wage Theft Capital” of the country, according to a 2010 University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) study.

Workers have the right to sue the company at court or appeal to a labor commission. Maria Vasquez, for example, worked long hours cleaning, washing dishes, cooking, preparing food at Art’s Wings and Things. She told KCRW that this work often went unpaid. Vasquez appealed to the California Labor Commission. The commission found that she was owed close to $85,000. But Vasquez is still waiting for the money she’s owed, eleven months after the court order. The company simply ignores the commission’s order.

Among those who complete the lengthy process of winning a judgment for unpaid wages, only 17% recover any of their stolen wages, according to a UCLA study.

Businesses steal from workers in broad daylight. They know that the state, the city, the courts, and the labor commissions are often on their side against the workers.