L.A., Long Beach warehouse workers sue over wages, say they’re getting stiffed

By Karen Robes Meeks
Long Beach Press Telegram

(Link to article on presstelegram.com)

WILMINGTON >> Los Angeles and Long Beach port warehouse workers have filed a class action lawsuit alleging wage theft and labor law violations against a facility that handles goods for Amazon, Lowes and other major retailers.

Workers said Thursday they are suing warehouse services provider California Cartage Co. and its staffing agencies over what they say are stolen wages and several other issues, including not paying for all hours worked and not complying with the city’s living wage ordinance of $11.03-an-hour with benefits and $12.28 without benefits. Workers said they are paid between $9 and $10.20 per hour.

Cal Cartage did not return a call seeking comment Thursday. Orient Tally Co., Staffing Systems, Inc. and AMR Staffing Inc. also could not be reached for comment.

More than two dozen warehouse workers gathered during their lunch break to cheer and hold up a banner that read, “Respecto para trabajadores de bodegas” — “Respect for warehouse workers” — at a press conference outside Cal Cartage’s warehouse in Wilmington on Port of Los Angeles property.

“This is about a fight for workers’ legal, civil and human rights to a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work,” said Julie Gutman Dickinson, an attorney representing the warehouse workers. “This is a lawsuit about millions of dollars … that are being taken out of the pocket of the hardworking men and women at this warehouse, who are struggling to live a life of dignity and respect, struggling to provide for themselves and their families.”

The workers were supported by the Warehouse Worker Resource Center, a nonprofit group that deals with health and safety, wage theft and workers’ compensation issues. The center, which is the home of the Warehouse Workers United campaign, has been working for three years to recover more than $1 million in wages they say were earned by warehouse workers.

One worker, Long Beach forklift driver Gregorio Ceron, 41, said he is being paid minimum wage to support his wife and three young children and often has to defer rent payments to pay for necessities.

“We filed this lawsuit, this demand, because our wages are not being respected, and we’re not being treated like human beings,” said Ceron,

“We know they’re violating the law, and we want them to follow the law,” he said.

Warehouse workers and their supporters are calling for a higher minimum wage, better enforcement and fair working conditions for Los Angeles workers.

Contact Karen Robes Meeks at 562-714-2088.

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