California labor law enforcement in the underground economy

There are at least two enforcement efforts at work in California to protect low wage immigrant workers, including illegal workers, from employer abuses. One I have already posted on here – an initiative to combat workers comp fraud. Another is the Economic and Employment Enforcement Coalition. Both of these initiatives enforce state and/or federal employment laws without necessarily closing down the targeted businesses.
Workcompcentral reported today an EEEC action: “Garment Industry Sweep Nets $454,600 in Fines.” The report: “A garment industry enforcement sweep by California’s underground economy task force netted $454,000 in fines and found five employers who lacked workers’ compensation coverage for 95 employees, the state Department of Industrial Relations announced Friday. The Economic and Employment Enforcement Coalition’s (EEEC) Feb. 7-8 sweep resulted in 24 of 32 businesses inspected receiving a notice to discontinue and $454,600 in citations and projected penalties. Inspectors found five businesses that lacked comp coverage for workers.
Those businesses and other garment manufacturers were also cited for a variety of labor law violations.
After the sweep, Korean Garment Industry Association President Steve Kim initiated an outreach seminar to answer labor compliance questions and to help local garment manufacturers into compliance, the EEEC said. The seminar was held Thursday in Los Angeles.
The EEEC presentation included expert speakers from the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and Division of Occupational Safety and Health. The Employment Development Department and U.S. Department of Labor were also on hand to answer questions and provide information on workplace safety, wage and hour, payroll taxes, registration and other labor-related issues, the coalition said in a press release.
Below is a desription of the EEEC from its website:


Economic and Employment Enforcement Coalition (EEEC) is a partnership of state and federal agencies, each expert in their own field, collaborating to:
Educate business owners and employees on federal and state labor, employment, and licensing laws;
Conduct vigorous and targeted enforcement against labor law violators;
Helping to level the playing field and restore the competitive advantage to law abiding businesses and their employees.
Background – Triple “E” Coalition
California’s small businesses form the backbone of our state’s economy. They provide the most jobs to our people and with their great flexibility they are able to quickly adapt to the changing demands of the marketplace. They are both the symbol and culmination of California’s great entrepreneurial spirit and they form the basis of our free-market economy. These businesses and their employees are facing an ever increasing danger. Their ability to compete in the world economy is being threatened. The underground economy plagues many of our once vital industries, driving down wages, harshening working conditions and undercutting legitimate businesses to a point where they can no longer fairly compete and can no longer provide well-paying jobs to Californians. Businesses operating underground have typical profiles such as avoiding licensing requirements, which makes them harder to find and bring into compliance with state and local laws; they pay wages in cash, which allows them to avoid payroll taxes that fund unemployment insurance, disability insurance, and paid family leave; they fail to pay income taxes; they often employ vulnerable workers (newly arrived immigrants), children and the poor to whom they often fail to pay even the minimum wage mandated by state or federal law. Businesses operating in the underground economy fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance, often avoiding minimum occupational safety and health requirements. By avoiding so many legal requirements, these underground operations carry much lower overhead costs which give them an unfair competitive advantage over legitimate businesses that follow the rules.
In order to help legitimate businesses and California workers combat the underground economy, California needs stronger enforcement of the current labor laws. For decades California has had some of the strongest labor and workforce safety laws in the country. To help enforce these labor laws and regulations, the Triple “E” Coalition (Economic and Employment Coalition-EEEC) was created as a multi-agency enforcement program consisting of investigators from the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, Division of Occupational Safety and Health, Employment Development Department, Contractor’s State License Board and US Department of Labor .The primary emphasis of the EEEC is to combine the enforcement efforts of the agencies and put as many investigators into the field as possible.

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