ONTARIO, Calif. – The state of California has ordered a Southern California warehouse that processes merchandise for Walmart and other retailers to pay 865 workers more than $1 million in stolen wages.
The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement issued the citations Monday, Jan. 28 against Quetico, LLC, a large warehouse complex in Chino, California. Back wages and unpaid overtime total more than $1.1million and in addition the state issued about $200,000 in penalties.
“Quetico is strict when it comes to enforcing its rules with workers so it is only fair that the state enforce the laws that the company broke,” said Abraham Guzman, a warehouse worker who has been at Quetico for about two and a half years. “I am satisfied that the law will now be followed and workers have won justice.”
Last year workers brought concerns to the Warehouse Worker Resource Center, an advocacy organization that works with Warehouse Workers United. Workers showed that they were missing pay for time worked, missed lunch periods, warehouse time clocks were faulty, workers pay stubs had been adjusted by the company reducing their pay and workers said that if they complained managers would issue a warning and restore their pay. After three warnings workers are fired.
“Workers face particularly egregious working conditions at Quetico,” said Guadalupe Palma, a director with Warehouse Workers United. “Workers were routinely punished if they asked to be paid for the time they worked. Many workers opted not to receive the pay they were owed just to keep their jobs.”
Workers at the three-building warehouse complex label, tag and pack apparel and shoes for major brand names and retailers including Walmart, Levi’s, Maidenform and Puma.
The Quetico warehouse has been cited numerous times in the last year by multiple state agencies. In May the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA, fined the warehouse for unsafe working conditions including inadequate access to bathrooms. In June, the DLSE determined that at least three workers were retaliated against and had their pay docked for requesting to be paid for missing wages. In addition, several workers have filed federal charges with the National Labor Relations Board for retaliation.
“Many problems that we commonly see in Southern California warehouses are concentrated at this warehouse,” Palma said. “We are grateful that the state has taken such dramatic action.”
Warehouse workers at a nearby facility that moves merchandise exclusively for Walmart and is operated by Schneider Logistics filed a federal lawsuit in October 2011 alleging massive wage and hour violations at a Walmart-contracted warehouse in Southern California. In January Judge Christina Snyder ruled that Walmart can be added as a defendant in the lawsuit to recover millions of dollars in stolen wages.
Warehouse Workers United is an organization committed to improving the quality of life and jobs for warehouse workers in Southern California’s Inland Empire.
February 1 at 9:28 PM
Earlier today I saw a beef packing plant that somehow convinced it's workers that if the line stopped for any reason they didn't get paid. Apparently the employees who bawked got fired. Now there's a lawsuit.
Good question. I imagine it's because they can. And they know if they get caught all they have to do is pay it back, plus a penalty.
If they don't get caught it is a lot of extra money. Kind of like Wall Street and the bankers. There are lots of ways to exploit the system and make millions from it and if you are caught just pay it back and if you are unlucky you pay an extra fee for it.
Holy cow, how does a company think its ok to do this?
Never, ever question the job creators. Just be thankful for your job and they will throw some pennies your way. If they feel like it. Workers are nothing. They owe their lives and their existence to the creators. You don't complain about them, otherwise no job for you. After all, they have investors to keep happy.
The people who collect dividends are working very hard, much harder than these warehouse workers. That is why they have more money. It's a logical conclusion.
They deserve the absolute maximum payout, and if it has to come from ripping off the workers, well them's the breaks. The workers are nothing but takers. They are probably on food stamps, or possibly even minorities of some sort, no doubt with several children.
How are companies supposed to make a profit if they cant exploit workers?
I'm sure this is another reason the unions are treated like bastards. Without a union, that crap would still be happening and no one would be able to file a suit in the first place. Like it is in SC. The state advertises to prospective businesses that we have a low and barely tolerated union presence in the state. People are still too afraid of upsetting their boss man and will abuse union members themselves to gain favor