Sacramento, CA (September 30, 2020) — Today, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California applauded Governor Gavin Newsom for signing AB 3075 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) into law. AB 3075 was a piece of priority legislation for the union that will prevent companies from exploiting the global pandemic to cheat their workers by reopening under a different name to avoid paying wages they owe their employees. 

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit California, low-wage workers have borne the brunt of our state’s job loss,” said David Huerta, President of SEIU United Service Workers West (SEIU_USWW) and Executive Board Member of SEIU California. “These workers, predominantly workers of color and immigrant workers, are also the workers most likely to be victims of wage theft by unscrupulous companies who hope the pandemic will let them avoid scrutiny for laying off workers without paying them back wages they’re owed. We applaud Governor Newsom’s signature on AB 3075 to help prevent lawbreaking employers from using loopholes to skip out on their workers who’ve been paying the most difficult price these last few months.”

Many employers in California cheat workers out of hours worked, don’t pay the minimum wage or deny workers overtime pay, stealing an estimated $2 billion per year in California from workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute. This wage theft is compounded by the fact that only 17% of workers who have received a judgment in their favor receive any repayment at all. AB 3075 will also clarify that local wage enforcement agencies have the ability to enforce existing state wage laws, so that a worker who files a claim in a local office can recover everything they are owed without having to file simultaneously with the state. 

“It’s disheartening to feel that unscrupulous employers can steal from workers with impunity and shrug off the debts they owe. I’m glad to see that Governor Newsom has listened to workers like me and taken a step to make it harder for companies to do that,” said Johanna Bernal, an essential worker janitor in San Diego.