Construction workers press for payment of stolen wages

Vicente Pelayo, one of the workers affected with wage theft demands justice. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).

Araceli Martínez / The Opinion

A group of construction workers filed a precautionary embargo (Mechanics lien in English) against the historic Chapman Court building, located in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles as well as against the sister company Chapman Plaza for more than $ 45,000 for wage theft.

The lawyer Cal Soto of the National Day Workers Network (NDLON) said that workers were not paid their salaries for the months of June, July and August of this year.

"We represent seven workers, but we think there are more who were affected in this working group", he claimed.

“Here the company that owns the building hired several companies to do the job, and they in turn hired the workers,” he explained.

Vicente Pelayo, one of the workers affected with wage theft demands justice. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).

The owner company is called ArcWest partners, it is a collaboration between Arc Capital and Belay Investment Group.

The lawsuit is against the three contracting companies that ArcWest hired: Core Painting, Kaptive C&P and MDM Builders Group.

Soto explained that under lIn California laws, if workers who work in a building do not receive their wages, a court can force the sale of the property to recover them.

"A property withholding – the lien – is the first step in this process," he said.

"The owner has 90 days to respond before we file a lawsuit in court to force them to sell the building, and recover salaries”, Said lawyer Kim Ouillette of Legal Aid at Work.

He added that some workers paid them nothing; and others, only incomplete wages.

In addition to NDLON, workers are represented by the Korean Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), Legal Aid at Work and Wage Justice Center.

The building where the renovation work was done is located at the corner of Alexandria Avenue and Sixth Street in Koreatown.

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Vicente Pelayo, one of the workers affected with wage theft, explained that he worked nine and a half weeks, and he was never paid anything.

“I did finishing work. At first, they told us not to worry, that they were going to pay us, but at last they closed the door. We could not enter. Imagine, my wife was telling me that I had spent my money with women, but they robbed me. I almost went with my family to the bridge to sleep, ”he remarked.

Pelayo said there are about 20 workers affected with wage theft, but said they are afraid to claim.

Arturo Valencia, a worker victim of wage theft, asked to be paid what he worked for. "We ask for justice against this abuse, we already earn our salaries," he said. (Araceli Martínez / The Opinion).

Alexanda Suh, executive director of KIWA, said developers, real estate investors, and contractors generate profits from the Chapman Plaza and Champman Court buildings.

"They need to take responsibility and make sure that the people whose work turned those buildings into wonderful destinations are paid for the work they do," he said.

And he stressed that workers are trying to take care of their families. “Why it is so difficult for contractors to simply pay them for their work. Salary theft has no place in our community. We need a Koreatown where workers and residents can succeed, ”he said.

According to a report from the UCLA Labor Center, workers in Los Angeles lose $ 26.2 million in wage theft every week.

KIWA called on workers who have had a work problem, wage theft or discrimination to attend free consultations every Thursday from 6 to 7 pm 6-7pm at their location located at 1053 S. New Hampshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, with the zip code 90006. They can also call and leave a message at 213-738-9050.

The opinion It is waiting for a comment from the companies claims.

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