Rafael Castellanos Proposes County Office Of Fair Labor Standards To Combat Wage Theft, Promote A Fair Economy
“With income inequality widening, County Government must stand up for an honest day’s pay for San Diego’s working families.”
SAN DIEGO – Rafael Castellanos today outlined plans to establish the first-ever San Diego County Office of Fair Labor Standards to strengthen enforcement of fair pay laws, protect San Diego’s most vulnerable workers and build a stronger, fairer economy in San Diego.
Rafael Castellanos said: “Wage theft robs workers of the fair pay they’re entitled to and disproportionately affects low income workers, women and immigrants already struggling to make ends meet. A County Office of Fair Labor Standards will ensure all San Diego workers get a fair shake. In our time of widening income inequality, County Government must stand up for working families and make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top.”
Wage theft is a widespread problem:
- The Economic Policy Institute projects 590,000 California workers lose $2 billion due to wage theft annually.
- The Center On Policy Initiatives estimates 40,000 minimum wage law violations per year in the San Diego region.
- An iNewsSource investigation revealed local workers fail to win back pay in 70% of wage theft cases due to a lack of enforcement, employees’ fear of retaliation and a backlog of complaints with the state Labor Commissioner.
- In addition to minimum wage violations, wage theft also includes failure to pay overtime, denying workers sick leave, requiring work off the clock and seizing tips from employees.
Rafael Castellanos’ proposed County Office Of Fair Labor Standards would boost local funding for trainings, workplace investigations and support for legal enforcement of state and local fair pay laws, and is modeled after similar offices in Santa Clara, Los Angeles and San Francisco Counties. Its primary functions would be to:
- Partner with the California Labor Commissioner to streamline local wage theft enforcement and target industries with high rates of wage theft.
- Expand education and trainings for employees and employers on workers’ rights, employer responsibilities, state and local fair pay laws, wage theft, harassment, and retaliation.
- Increase referrals of egregious violators and repeat offenders to the District Attorney for prosecution.
- Empower community-based organizations to report violations in communities at high-risk of wage theft - undocumented workers, in-home caretakers and fast food employees.
- The County Office of Fair Labor Standards will support enforcement of fair pay laws for all San Diego workers and will not ask or report workers’ immigration status.
Castellanos’ County Office of Fair Labor Standards proposal was applauded by both worker advocates and employment experts who said wage theft, and other workplace violations, shortchange workers and hurt law-abiding businesses.
Fernando Tafoya, President of the La Raza Lawyers Association, said: “Too many San Diegans - especially immigrants, undocumented workers and people of color - don’t know where to turn when their rights are violated at work and so only a fraction of actual wage theft cases are ever reported. That’s wrong and has to change. Rafael Castellanos’ proposed County Office of Fair Labor Standards will give San Diego workers the tools they need to fight back, win economic justice and ensure our economy works for all - regardless of ethnicity, nationality or immigration status.”
Rodrigo Guevara, an attorney specializing in employee rights, welcomed Castellanos’ proposal as a boon to responsible employers: “When some companies fail to pay workers what they’re legally owed, both working people and law-abiding businesses who play by the rules get hurt. I look forward to working with Rafael Castellanos to launch the County Office of Fair Labor Standards so we level the playing field for responsible businesses who do right by their employees and grow San Diego’s economy fairly.”
Castellanos’ proposed County Office Of Fair Labor Standards builds on his long record of advocacy on behalf of working people. As Port Commissioner, Castellanos is leading the modernization of the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal to create 500 good paying jobs on the waterfront and has worked with San Diego’s shipyard and longshore workers to raise wages and strengthen workplace safety standards at the Port.
Castellanos serves as Port Commissioner for San Diego and is a Democratic candidate for County Supervisor in San Diego’s 1st District. He is endorsed by San Diego’s Shipyard Workers Union, Longshore Workers Union, Teamsters Unions, Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina, Lemon Grove Mayor Racquel Vasquez and Chula Vista Councilwoman Jill Galvez, among others.