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Protesters Demonstrate at Pasadena ‘Wage Theft’ Work Sites

Labor groups protest the slow pace of enforcement against two local businesses assessed for wage violations

Published on Sunday, January 26, 2020 | 5:42 am

More than a hundred workers from labor organizations as far away as Texas, Oregon, and New York, demonstrated at two Pasadena work sites Saturday to protest separate cases of reported wage theft.

The actions were organized by Pasadena-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON).

Demonstrators first gathered at Chapala Bakery at 265 E. Orange Grove Boulevard in Northwest Pasadena where two workers had complained of minimum wage and other violations in 2018. The protesters encircled the bakery, playing music and chanting “Pay your workers!” In English and Spanish.

Following the workers’ complaint, a joint investigation by the state and city resulted in a combined assessment of more than $80,000 in back wages, damages, premiums and interest for minimum wage violations and various California labor code violations at the bakery.

California Department of Industrial Relations’ (DIR) Bureau of Field Enforcement investigators determined that the business operators must compensate the three employees who joined the complaint $62,987.78 and must pay the state $17,950 in civil penalties for a total of $80,937.78.

Staff from the DIR’s Judgement Enforcement Unit continue to investigate the proprietor’s various assets in an effort to recover funds for the payment of unpaid wages, penalties and damages.

On Saturday demonstrators next visited the construction site of a new affordable housing project on North Fair Oaks Avenue being built by RAAM Construction, where it was alleged that workers were ordered to pay kickbacks to supervisors, in order to maintain their jobs.

In a statement released through its media strategist, the NDLON said the case involving RAAM Construction “was filed over two years ago, but is still being delayed by a dispute between the City of Pasadena and the California Labor Commissioner’s office regarding the amount of the wages owed. The endless gridlock within the government regarding this claim is only harming the workers.”

NDLON said both the Chapala Bakery and RAAM Construction complaints are indicative of a broader issue plaguing labor claims in California: claims are processed slowly and the victims are suffering.

Some are “worse off today than the day they came forward. Delayed justice is no justice at all,” NDLON said.

A Pasadena spokesperson said that city representatives met with NDLON last week.

“The City is working with NDLON to increase outreach and enforcement activities. The City is also working to expedite resolution of outstanding matters.”

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