Workers, UC Santa Cruz students and researchers will share their stories about wage theft at a community event 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Watsonville Civic Plaza, 275 Main St. Admission is free and translation will be available.
Staff from California Rural Legal Assistance and the Day Worker Center will be on hand to discuss new monthly wage and hour clinics to help those experiencing wage theft. There will be a dialogue about workplace violations and what can be done.
Wage theft includes stealing tips, not paying for overtime, not paying the minimum wage, not paying for all hours worked and not allowing workers to take meal or rest breaks.
The clinics come in response to a yearlong research project, “Working for Dignity,” by the UCSC Center for Labor Studies in which 1,300 workers making less than $15 an hour were surveyed. The surveys found:
- 38 percent who worked overtime did not get paid for that work.
- 71 percent did not get a break despite earning a 10- or 30-minute rest.
- 11.5 percent did not receive a pay stub.
“California Rural Legal Assistance, the Day Worker Center and the Center for Labor Studies wanted to focus on wage theft as it was an important finding from our report,” said Steve McKay, associate professor of sociology and director of the UCSC Center for Labor Studies.
The issue had not been studied before in Santa Cruz County, according to McKay.
A website that details the findings includes a link to wagetheft.org, a project of Interfaith Worker Justice, which reports wage theft is a national problem and grass-roots organizations are working on solutions.