The city of San Francisco recently reached a ground-breaking settlement for more than half a million dollars in back wages and penalties with Chinatown restaurant Dick Lee Pastry. The Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), which is a member of Jobs with Justice and the Progressive Workers Alliance, first referred Dick Lee workers to file a claim with the government in 2009.
Employees worked 11 hour days, six days a week, for under $4 an hour. When they tried to pursue their claim, the employer fabricated time sheets, instructed employees to lie about their hours, cut hours, made threats of bankruptcy and other tactics to delay their efforts. Nevertheless, the Dick Lee workers prevailed.
The victory is also a major win for the Progressives Worker Alliance’s ongoing campaign to end wage theft, which had passed a wage theft prevention ordinance in 2011. Across the country, an estimated $30 billion is stolen every year in wages. Many low-wage workers and immigrant workers are affected. A 2010 report release by CPA revealed that 1 in 2 workers in Chinatown restaurants are paid below minimum wage.
Despite laws on the books, workers rights still depend on enforcement and organizing. Come recognize the Dick Lee workers for their courage and perseverance at CPA’s press event this Thursday 12pm at City Hall.