Pasadenans Organizing for Progress (POP!), the lead organization in Pasadena that fought for the minimum wage to be increased to $15 per hour by 2020, released a statement on Thursday celebrating the effort made by City of Pasadena to ensure that low wage workers earn what they deserve and are not robbed by their employers.
On Jan. 8 the City of Pasadena released a statement revealing that a local business, Chapala Bakery, violated the minimum wage ordinance and also violated a number of labor codes. Through a joint effort between the City of Pasadena and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), a minimum wage outreach worker discovered the violations and examined the employee complaints which were ultimately brought to the California Department of Industrial Relations – Bureau of Field Enforcement. The fines, penalties and damages assessed to Chapala Bakery are over $80,000.
“Businesses in the great City of Pasadena cannot and should not succeed on the backs of low wage workers,” said Juliana Serrano, POP! board member and senior associate at All Saints Church. “Wage theft is a serious issue and employees ought to be paid what they earned for their hard labor. It is wonderful that Pasadena is taking the problem of wage theft head on.”
As part of POP!’s advocacy for worker’s rights and economic justice, it also fought for the City of Pasadena to include a strong wage theft enforcement measure as part of the city ordinance when it was unanimously approved in 2016 (and affirmed in 2019). Understanding that many businesses in the city would not pay their employees the minimum wage increases according to the ordinance’s schedule, POP! worked closely with the City to create a mechanism by which wage theft violations could be reported and investigated to the City’s Planning and Community Development Department.
“Because of the work that the NDLON outreach worker has been able to do in partnership with the City, many employers and employees have been educated about the new minimum wage and several cases of wage theft have been identified. This is certainly the most egregious case discovered, and we hope no other business will be found in such violation again,” said POP! Board Member and Worker’s Rights Committee Chair Mark Maier.