Busi­nesses, wages and what’s fair

Los Angeles Times - - Opinion -

Re “Stiffer penal­ties pro­posed for short­chang­ing work­ers,” Sept. 17

Cal Cham­ber mem­ber com­pa­nies take is­sue with this ar­ti­cle, specif­i­cally with re­gard to AB 2187, which would make wage theft a mis­de­meanor crime.

One of the main rea­sons com­pa­nies join Cal Cham­ber is to stay com­pli­ant with Cal­i­for­nia’s com­plex em­ploy­ment laws.

Cal Cham­ber would never con­done any in­ten­tional wage vi­o­la­tions. How­ever, AB 2187 goes well be­yond that and could re­sult in crim­i­nal­iz­ing em­ploy­ers with le­git­i­mate dis­putes over wage claims. Fur­ther, the bill is un­needed be­cause ex­ist­ing law re­quires em­ploy­ers to make the em­ployee whole should wages be due.

AB 2187 won’t cre­ate more peo­ple to en­force the law. In fact, it will di­vert cur­rent staff’s time away from pros­e­cut­ing in­ten­tional vi­o­la­tors. Crim­i­nal­iz­ing em­ploy­ers with le­git­i­mate dis­putes over wage claims will make Cal­i­for­nia’s busi­ness cli­mate even more rugged, cost­ing jobs at a time when we can least af­ford it.

Al­lan Zarem­berg

Sacra­mento The writer is pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Cal­i­for­nia Cham­ber of Com­merce.

I would like to point out that my of­fice’s high level of en­force­ment is hav­ing a mea­sure­able ef­fect for the ben­e­fit of low-in­come work­ers and for a level play­ing field for busi­nesses.

With re­spect to the car-wash in­dus­try that you dis­cussed, in 2008 my of­fice in­spected one-third of car­washes in Cal­i­for­nia, as­sess­ing $3.7 mil­lion in penal­ties.

The to­tal num­ber of in­spec­tions in all low-wage in­dus­tries by my of­fice in the last two years — 9,000 in each year — along with the sig­nif­i­cant ground­break­ing lit­i­ga­tion filed have had a ma­jor im­pact in fight­ing the un­der­ground econ­omy for the ben­e­fit of low-in­come work­ers and le­git­i­mate busi­nesses.

An­gela Brad­street

Sacra­mento The writer is the state la­bor com­mis­sioner. HOW TO WRITE TO US Please send letters to letters@latimes.com. For sub­mis­sion guide­lines, see latimes.com/letters or call 1-800-LA TIMES, ext. 74511.

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