More Filipino caregivers being victimized by wage theft

By Harvey I. Barkin/Fil-Am Star / INQUIRER.net News Partner
In a report it released recently, the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition urged the county to do more in the face of alarming numbers of wage theft and retaliation complaints filed at the State Labor Commission’s San Jose office.

“While wage theft is a national epidemic, the San Jose office of the Labor Commission handles approximately 300 claims from workers in the county each month,” said report collaborator Shannon Gleeson. PhD. “(It is) the highest number of all the 16 regions with an average of thousands of dollars more per worker statewide.”

Between 2012 and 2013, the State Labor Commission in San Jose awarded $8.4 million in wages. “But workers could only collect $2.2 million or 33 percent of the award,” explained Ruth Silver Taube, supervising attorney of Workers Rights Program–Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center.

“A lot of the workers can’t collect the wages owed them because their employers say their business is going bankrupt or that their ownership is changing,” observe Michael Tayag, an organizer for Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants (or PAWIS, a member of the wage theft coalition).

Impacted ‘kababayan’

The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division’s Demetria Manuselis said it has identified certain industries where there are significant violations.

In Santa Clara County, specifically, it is the care home industry, a staple job among minorities, especially Filipinos, where wage theft and poor working conditions are rampant.
Tayag told FilAm Star, “Fourteen percent of those who approached Katharine and George Alexander Law Center for workers’ rights violations were Asian/Pacific Islanders, a large percentage of those were Filipinos.”

To have a sense of the number of Filipino workers affected by wage theft and retaliation, Tayag shared this excerpt from his research:

“Out of a general population of 7,039,362 in the San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland, California region, where Santa Clara is one of nine counties, Filipinos make up 379,196. In the same region, two percent of Filipino men are employed in the healthcare support industry, into which caregivers would fall, and 6.4 percent of Filipino women are employed in this industry (Ating Kalagayan), Chua, 2009).

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