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Wage theft is a major problem that affects all workers, especially workers the system undervalues, like recent immigrants and workers in industries that pay the lowest wages. Workers shouldn’t go into debt, or risk losing their jobs, homes, and/or food and care for their families because they stand up for their rights on the job.
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On May 23rd the County Board of Supervisors approved the introduction of a Workplace Justice Fund! The County will meet on June 13th to formally establish the fund.
A worker justice fund would provide financial assistance to workers experiencing wage theft or other violations of their rights. A worker justice fund can ensure workers who file claims are paid the money they are legally owed and allow workers to cover housing and other necessities, preventing them from going into further financial hardship. Covering workers’ loss of wages and providing financial assistance will promote workers’ rights, health, and safety and empower more workers to report violations. We’re fighting for a worker justice fund at the City and County of San Diego so workers can get justice faster.
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Every day in California hundreds of thousands of workers experience wage theft, harassment, and abuse. Every worker is entitled to safety and dignity on the job. Today, bosses get away with retaliation because they have the power to bully and silence workers for demanding fairness and respect. It doesn’t have to be this way.
The Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Act (SB497) can change the gross imbalance of power and reduce workplace abuse. SB 497 would create an assumption that a negative action against an employee is retaliation when it occurs within 90 days of a worker reporting a labor or equal pay violation. The bill would also allow whistleblowers to collect up to a $10,000 penalty. Currently, only the state may collect from lawbreaking employers.
Effective workplace laws require well-informed workers. Last year, California committed $50 million over two years to expand a historic worker outreach program that builds community resilience through workers’ rights education. Now the Governor proposes eliminating the program’s second year in 2024.
Workers in California’s low-wage industries still face hazards and exploitation. We have succeeded in creating a highly effective new piece of our workplace fairness infrastructure and cannot afford to discard it.
Building resilient and equitable communities requires empowering workers in low-wage industries to assert their rights.