February 2015

Alexander Law Clinic Professor to Accept Immigrant Rights “Beacon of Light” Award for Coalition Work

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 9,  2015 — Ruth Silver Taube, supervising attorney with the Workers’ Rights Clinic of the Alexander Community Law Center at Santa Clara University School of Law, will accept a county “beacon of light” award Feb. 11, on behalf of a coalition she established in 2013. 
 Silver Taube will accept the Beacon of Light Award from Immigrant Resources and Integration Services, part of the Santa Clara County Office of Human Relations, on behalf of the Santa Clara Wage Theft Coalition. The award is in recognition of the work of the diverse, multi-organizational Coalition, and the tireless work of the group in combating the problem of wage theft. 
 The ceremony will take place Wednesday, Feb, 11, from 1:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. at the Sobrato Center, 1400 Parkmoor Avenue, in San Jose.  
Wage theft occurs when a worker is paid less than minimum wage; is not paid for regular or overtime hours; or is paid only in tips. From 2012 to 2013, nearly 2,000 workers in Santa Clara County filed claims for $8.4 million in unpaid wages. The problem, which Silver Taube calls and “epidemic,” leads to food insecurity and unstable housing situations for victims, their families, and communities, and places unfair competitive burdens on responsible businesses.
“I became frustrated by the number of clients we regularly see at the Law Center’s Workers’ Rights clinics who have unpaid wage theft judgments,” said Silver Taube. “I was also disgusted by the culture of noncompliance among some businesses taking advantage of some of the most vulnerable workers.“ 
As a result of Silver Taube’s leadership and advocacy by the 16 organizations comprising the Wage Theft Coalition, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors last year enacted legislation requiring bidders on county contracts to disclose wage-theft judgments, and to provide proof that they have satisfied the judgments. On February 12, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will vote on including anti-wage theft language in County contracts.
 The coalition continues to advocate for similar measures in area cities, including San Jose and Sunnyvale where measures are underway, and seeks legislation that will suspend licenses and permits until unpaid wage theft judgments are paid.   
Other facts about wage theft in Silicon Valley: 
*Despite Silicon Valley’s thriving economy, wage theft is rampant in Santa Clara County. 
*According to California data, wage theft is worse in Santa Clara County than in other regions of the state.
* The San Jose Office of the California Labor Commissioner handles approximately 300 enforcement claims from workers in the County each month.  
*Of the $8.4 million awarded to 2,000 Santa Clara County workers from 2012-2013, victims were able to collect only $2.8 million. 
*Silver Taube recently co-authored a report documenting the effects of wage theft on individuals, families, and communities across Santa Clara County.  
Media Contacts
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | dlohse@scu.edu | 408-554-4121
Sergio Lopez | KGACLC | smlopez@scu.edu | 408-288-7030