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Report to Highlight the Problem of Wage Theft in Santa Clara County

Local Wage Theft Coalition to Encourage County-wide Action
The County of Santa Clara and the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition invite media and the general public for the release of a new report on wage theft in Santa Clara County. Today’s event will feature highlights of the report and remarks from advocates, government agencies, workers, and County officials about this problem in Santa Clara County and strategies to stop wage theft.
Wage theft is the crime of stealing earned wages from workers.  It occurs when a worker is paid less than minimum wage, is not paid overtime, is paid only in tips, or works off the clock.  Wage theft is a national epidemic – affecting workers in industries that span the economy.  According to a national study, the average low-wage worker loses 15 percent of her wages to wage theft each year. 
Supervisor Dave Cortese, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, District 3
Supervisor Cindy Chavez, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, District 2
Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition (Member Agencies)
Santa Clara County Office of Women’s Policy
Monday, April 21, 2014, 11:30 a.m. – Noon
County of Santa Clara Government Center – 70 W. Hedding, San Jose, CA 95110 (East Wing).
Lower Level Conference Room (follow signs)
Despite Silicon Valley’s economic success, wage theft is rampant in Santa Clara County.  Each month, the Office of the California Labor Commissioner in San Jose handles approximately 300 enforcement claims from workers in Santa Clara County. 
From 2012-2013, the almost 2,000 workers who filed claims with this office were awarded $8.4 million in owed wages.  This is an average of almost $5,000 per worker – which amounts to approximately a quarter of the income they earn in a year.  Workers are often unable to collect their owed wages.  Of the $8.4 million awarded, workers have been able to collect only $2.8 million or 33 percent of the total. 
The Wage Theft Report in Santa Clara County highlights the problem and provides key strategies to combat wage theft in our community.
About the Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition:
The Coalition addresses wage theft in Santa Clara County. Its top goal is to create an environment where workers earn their fair wages and responsible businesses do not face unfair competition, based on these illegal practices.  The Coalition seeks to strengthen member organizations that support workers, by bringing visibility to their efforts and to worker stories.
The Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition, convened in 2013 at the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center, includes community-based and worker-based organizations, legal advocacy agencies, public agencies, and other entities:
Members include:
·    Asian Americans for Community Involvement
·    California Immigrant Policy Center
·    International Children Assistance Network
·    Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center
·    Movimiento de Acción, Inspirando Servicio
·    Mountain View Day Laborer Center
·    Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants
·    Restaurant Opportunities Center of the Bay
·    Services, Immigrant Rights, & Education Network
·    Vietnamese American Workers’ Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center
·    Working Partnerships USA
·    Workplace Justice Initiative
·    WorkSafe
The Coalition is also supported by governmental and private entities, including the following:
·    The Santa Clara County Office of Women’s Policy has provided valuable support and assistance to the Coalition.  The OWP is a leading voice in Silicon Valley on the needs of women and girls, serving as a catalyst for awareness and action on current and emerging issues that impact women's health, safety and security.  Through analysis, research and strategic collaboration, OWP works to ensure that programs and services, and also systems and policy support women's leadership, full equality and advancement in the home, at work and in the community. 
·    Justice at Work Law Group is a private law firm, primarily representing workers in wage theft cases in Federal and California Courts and administrative bodies.  They seek to work proactively with small businesses to prevent wage and hour disputes from occurring and help to resolve these disputes with employees and their representatives when mistakes have been made. 
Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Marina Hinestrosa, Office of Public Affairs (408) 299-5119; Esther Peralez-Dieckmann, SCC Office of Women’s Policy (408) 299-5142; Ruth Silver Taube, Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center-Worker Rights Program (408) 621-5678.
Posted:  April 16, 2014