Dozens of care workers earn back $800K in unpaid wages

Dozens of San Francisco care home workers were presented with an $800,000 check for unpaid wages this morning.

The wage settlement came from two recent cases that the San Francisco City Attorney's Office prosecuted with support from the city's Office of Labor Standards Enforcement and the Filipino Community Center, along with other city agencies and community and legal organizations.

Twenty workers from Nacario's Home successfully fought for $500,000 in unpaid labor, along with four Filipino workers at Sunset Gardens who reclaimed nearly $300,000 that was never paid out, according to the city attorney's office.

A total of $1.5 million has been recovered in seven cases since mid-2011 through the city's Wage Theft Ordinance that has protected employees at other care facilities in the city, including Veal's Residential Care Homes, which settled for $28,000 on Nov. 27, and St. Francis Manor for $163,200.

On the steps of City Hall this morning, city Supervisor David Campos denounced wage theft.

“We know if one set of workers is impacted by wage theft … we are all impacted,” Campos said.

He reflected on his family's experience as undocumented workers, with his mother working as a janitor and often leaving work without getting paid because “she was afraid” to ask.

Campos lauded the workers who spoke out about unfair labor practices, calling the Filipino workers some of the city's heroes and heroines.

“Nothing happens unless the workers have the courage to come forward,” he said.

Stephanie Gleason Bickham, a deputy city attorney, echoed Campos' message.

“We recognize how difficult this is for you and how much courage this takes,” she said.

One claimant from the Nacario case who did not want to give her full name told the small crowd at City Hall, “We must speak for our rights, our worker rights.”

Salome Luis, a Sunset Gardens worker, said she was not paid minimum wage, which will be $10.74 in San Francisco as of Jan. 1, 2014.

She said she turned to the Filipino Community Center to fight on her and her colleagues' behalf.

Because of the settlement, one of the workers was able to retire and return to the Philippines.

The check was presented on International Migrants Day, which falls each year on Dec. 18 to recognize migrant workers and their families.

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