LA County Board of Supervisors Approves Motion to Prevent Employers From Committing Wage Theft
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 17 approved a motion introduced by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis that would create a new office to educate employers on how they can comply with the new minimum wage and how they can prevent wage theft.
“Businesses that abide by the rules have to compete with those that do not. Through my motion, the County of Los Angeles will work on leveling the playing field for all,” said Supervisor Solis. “The County offers so many resources to its residents in terms of healthcare and training opportunities, but many don’t often associate the County as a partner that wants to nurture our business community – and yet, that’s exactly what we want to do.”
The motion establishes a Wage Enforcement Program that would receive, investigate, and resolve claims of wage theft. The cost to begin this new program would require an initial allocation of $408,000, which would include the hiring of five new staff members. The County will be ready to explain how the new minimum wage works by helping those who abide by the rules and by assisting the public to better understand how exploitation detrimentally affects the local economy.
“It is imperative that Los Angeles County crack down on unscrupulous employers because wage theft is both illegal and immoral, victimizing not only workers, but their families,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who coauthored the motion.
“By creating a Wage Enforcement Program, the first of its kind in the County, we can help ensure that workers are paid fairly,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added. “It also levels the playing field for responsible employers.”
A 2014 report from the UCLA Labor Center found that wage theft is widespread throughout Los Angeles County. The UCLA study found that in a given week, 655,000 low-wage workers in the County experience at least one violation. Wage theft is the illegal refusal of an employer to pay wages and benefits that an employee has legally earned. Most common forms of wage theft include minimum wage violations, overtime, meal and rest break violations, illegal paycheck deductions and failure to provide a final paycheck. Victims are disproportionately immigrants, women and people of color.
“Immigrants suffer minimum wage violations at twice the rate of their native-born counterparts. African-Americans suffer wage theft at twice the rate of their white counterparts. More than 50 percent of immigrant Latinas in the County earn less than the minimum wage,” said Supervisor Solis. “Enforcement is key to stopping this crime.”
In July, the Board of Supervisors approved an increase in the minimum wage for unincorporated areas of the County. The Board also established a Small Business Initiative to help support small businesses adjust to the increase in the minimum wage – which was also championed by Supervisor Solis.
“We, at the County, want small businesses to succeed. More than 70 percent of all businesses in East Los Angeles are small mom-and-pop shops,” said Supervisor Solis, whose First District represents East Los Angeles. “The County is eager to support them and explore all options to help these small enterprises succeed because we want them to thrive.”
Read her motion here.
Residents Concerned About Metrolink’s Diesel Locomotives
After learning that many area residents are concerned about noise and air pollution emanating from Metrolink’s 40 new diesel locomotives at its Central Maintenance Facility, Supervisor Hilda L. Solis issued the following statement:
“In the wake of the Oxnard accident last February, Metrolink has leased 40 additional diesel locomotives to mitigate potential safety concerns. However, these locomotives, which will be stored and tested at the Metrolink’s Central Maintenance Facility, are raising concerns among local residents because they will increase noise and air pollution. Although all of us want to encourage commuters who heavily rely on their cars to instead use public transportation, we must insist that these other alternative means of transportation significantly reduce greenhouse emissions and do not exacerbate them.
"As a Director on the MTA Board, I recently proposed a motion to MTA last month calling on the agency to study the feasibility of installing an advanced emissions control system that would significantly reduce emissions at the Metrolink Central Maintenance Facility. My MTA motion, which was co-authored by fellow Board Directors - Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, and Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian - was recently approved. This motion is one more step in improving the quality of air in the Los Angeles basin, which remains of paramount importance to me.”
Read her motion here.
Vigil in Memory of Nohemi Gonzalez
In honor of Nohemi Gonzalez, who was tragically killed during the recent terrorist attacks in France, the city of El Monte organized a vigil in her memory. Nohemi’s stepfather and mother, who live in El Monte, attended the Nov. 18 memorial. After meeting with Nohemi’s family, Supervisor Hilda L. Solis spoke at the public event.
“Tonight, I stand in solidarity with my very own city of El Monte to remember one of our precious, young leaders – Miss Nohemi Gonzalez,” said Supervisor Solis. “We honor her legacy and pay tribute to all of the victims of the senseless, tragic attack in Paris, France last Friday night. Nohemi - fondly known as ‘Mimi’ - was 23 years young – so full of life.
“We don’t know why such an inspiring young person was taken from us so soon, but we do know she was living the life she dreamt of and worked hard to achieve,” said Supervisor Solis of Nohemi, who was a student at California State University, Long Beach at the time of her death. “She was living abroad, studying different cultures, learning new languages and experiencing the rewards of her hard work.
“Her legacy will live on and her life will inspire other young women to dream courageously, to explore fearlessly and to persevere relentlessly – just as she did.”
Statement Appealing for Peace, Healing for People of France
After learning of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Supervisor Hilda L. Solis swiftly released the following statement:
“My heart grieves for the victims of the Paris attacks. At these moments, we struggle to understand what motivates individuals to commit such heinous acts. Many will take this opportunity to generalize and demonize an entire people. This is the wrong route to pursue.
“Let us join together peacefully, united in our solidarity with the people of France as they heal from this terrible loss of so many innocent lives. Only through peace and dialogue will we triumph over the evil that instigates these violent acts that are purposely designed to divide us. I join Angelenos and all people of goodwill in prayers for peace and healing,” Supervisor Solis said.
“My prayers and thoughts are with the family of El Monte resident Nohemi Gonzalez, a Cal State Long Beach student who was studying at the Strate College of Design through a semester abroad program when she was killed during the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. I extend my condolences to Nohemi’s loved ones as they grieve this terrible loss,” said Supervisor Solis, who requested that the colors of the Grand Park fountain be lit up in the colors of the French flag: blue, white and red.
Enhancing Urban Biodiversity
While speaking at the Nov. 19 “Enhancing Urban Biodiversity” symposium in South Gate, Supervisor Hilda L. Solis recalled her own childhood memories of visiting the San Gabriel Mountains and how she grew up cherishing the region’s scenic points and trails.
“But, I also grew up within smelling distance of the Puente Hills Landfill,” said Supervisor Solis, who grew up in La Puente. “I understand firsthand the environmental disparities that we must continue to address. That’s why I fought for landmark environmental justice legislation in 1999 - the first of its kind nationwide.”
At the symposium, more than 100 attendees met to explore ways to make the Los Angeles region more sustainable, and they discussed the important role of urban biodiversity. They pointed to the revitalization of the Lower Los Angeles River as an opportunity to bring the community together with nature.
“We need to break down silos, to make sure all residents live in a healthy environment,” said Supervisor Solis.
Other speakers included City of Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz, representatives from County, State, and Federal agencies, as well as various non-profit organizations. The event was co-sponsored by the County of Los Angeles and the Council for Watershed Health.
La Placita Olvera
Brazos Abiertos Resource Fair
More than 300 participants on Nov. 14 attended the Brazos Abiertos community resource fair to meet with representatives from more than 40 non-profit organizations, all eager to help unaccompanied minors gain access to free legal, health, and mental health services.
“It is a tragedy that these children feel so unsafe that they feel they have no other option than to uproot their lives and flee, leaving behind all they know. It is also a tragedy that these children endure a perilous journey - one filled with so much violence and danger,” Supervisor Solis said.
“Sadly, some do not survive the journey. Those who do arrive to the United States encounter a new set of daunting challenges.”
The Unaccompanied Central American Refugees Empowerment Coalition hosted the community resource fair. In addition, Brazos Abiertos screened “La Jaula de Oro,” a film that examines the experiences of two immigrant teenagers who journey to the United States from Central America alone. Many unaccompanied minors come to this country to escape violence in their native countries of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.
CLASP: 10 Years Making a Difference
This month, the Claremont After School Programs, Inc. (CLASP) celebrated 10 years of providing supportive academic guidance and personal mentoring for elementary-school children in the Claremont Unified School District (CUSD) neighborhoods.
CLASP operates five tutoring sites where they provide safe, fun, friendly, and supportive settings for academically at-risk children from all of Claremont’s elementary schools. Volunteer tutors come from local high schools, colleges and from the local community.
The age diversity offers cross-generational interaction, which benefits all participants. Students in the program get tutoring services, participate in recreational activities, receive healthy snacks and attend field trips and family meetings. They also receive academic guidance and personal mentoring that will help them be successful in school and in life. In addition to their school-year program, last year they collaborated with residents of the Mt. San Antonio Gardens Senior Community to provide a summer camp for 9 and 10-year-olds.
The success of the program is due, in large part, to the many volunteers who, last year, dedicated more than 8,000 hours. Each volunteer tutor is trained in the State’s Common Core curriculum and is given opportunities to interact with parents and teachers through a district-sponsored IPAD program.
Although CLASP serves children in the CUSD, about 40 percent of their students live in an area of Pomona that falls within the school district’s boundary. Transportation is also provided from school to the center and to their homes.
At the anniversary celebration, volunteers were recognized. Past presidents and board members were also thanked for their visionary leadership. The event, which included live music by the Citrus Jazz Combo, was hosted by Gerald and Barbara Friedman and food was prepared by Robin Leonard and Karen Rosenthal.
SAVE THE DATE
¡Vive Tu Vida! Health and Resource Fair
Salt Lake Park
3401 E. Florence Ave.
Huntington Park, CA 90255 Sat., Nov. 21, 2015
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Puente Valley: FREE Mulch Giveaway
Grand Central Recycling and Transfer Station
999 S. Hatcher Ave.
City of Industry, CA 91748
Sat., Nov. 21, 2015
7 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Grand Opening & Community Resource Fair
NEW First District Southeast Los Angeles Field Office
2677 Zoe Ave.
Huntington Park, CA 90255
Sat., Dec. 5, 2015
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
East Los Angeles Field Office
4801 East Third Street
Los Angeles, CA 90022
Phone: (323) 881-4601
Fax: (323) 887-7286
Hall of Administration Office
856 Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 974-4111
Fax: (213) 613-1739
El Monte Field Office
3400 Aerojet Avenue, Suite 240
El Monte, CA 91731
Phone: (626) 350-4500
Fax: (626) 448-1573