Thursday, September 29, 2005

Wage claims quadruple under sweatshop law-AP State News Wire by Laura Wides.

It's amazing that the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) reports about our inefficiencies, and the DLSE is still speechless! Dean Fryer, spokesman for the DLSE, said that his office would not comment until officials had read the report. I'm not sure how long it takes DLSE officials to read a report, but I can bet it takes less than two days. Two days ago, Laura's story about the APALC's report hit the presses.

The $24 billion flowing into the Los Angeles garment industry is the largest in the nation. What does the DLSE do about it? They suspended the attorney who led garment enforcement actions against the violators, and they suspended the Deputy Labor Commissioner who investigated the garment businesses that led to the now-suspended DLSE attorney enforcing such actions.

DLSE citations stay within their coffers; it's more money for the DLSE to play with since garment investigative funding comes from Assembly Bill 633. APALC's report fell short on several different fronts: it did not discuss the quality of the investigators assigned to garment enforcement, it didn't discuss the citation money that was never collected & never paid (thus the citation 'disappears' after the 1-year statute expires), Yeah, the state can issue a theoretical billion dollars in penalties, but how much of those penalties were paid? How many citations had to go to Nance Steffen's Collection Unit for judgement, and how many of those got paid via the collection and judgement? Want to know more? Request a Public Records Act (PRA) and mail it to: Thomas Grogan-Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, PO Box 420603; San Francisco, CA 94142. Specifically, you'll request the garment citation amounts, citation types [M/W, O/T, Reg., WCI, Child, Cash Pay] and the citation dispositions (dismissed at hearing, sent to collection, filed as judgement-money collected?).

The truth be told that if this is not a priority for the Governator, then the LWDA (who repeatedly kicks the DLSE into action) could care less. Remember, this is the same agency that tried to strip workers of their rights in meal & rest periods while concurrently trying to limit the liability of those companies that cannot help but violate state labor laws.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


State refuses to divulge information justifying their suspension state labor attorney

Why is it that Victoria Bradshaw's Labor Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) can't get out of their own way? Outside of Jose Millan's puff pieces [press releases] on his reformatted TIPP task force called the EEEC, the only time the LWDA makes news is when LWDA Undersecretary Rick Rice's damage control & spin doctoring keeps repeating the good ol' mantra, "We can't give you information because this is an internal personnel matter." Rick Rice has a new phrase for the reporters..."it needs to be handled through the state personnel system."

If they (the DLSE or LWDA) are so confident in their actions, then why did they pull their propaganda video soon after they made it? If they feel justified in how they handled state labor attorney Miles Locker's paid suspension, then why is it taking them months to investigate it (how long does it take the DLSE to investigate a lunch conversation?)? If Donna Dell had the giblets to tell Miles that other stuff he's done is under investigation, then why haven't they told him the specific issues/actions the DLSE is investigating? If they're so sure that their actions are legit, then why did the administration rescind their lawsuit-induced regulations (ending obigatory meal breaks and limiting employer liability from past violations) only 10 days after they made it? What made them abort it: common sense, or they knew they would lose?

This is the questions to end all questions: WHY CAN'T VICTORIA BRADSHAW AND JOSE MILLAN CLEAN UP THEIR OWN MESS, EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW THEIR ACTIONS ARE UNDER THE SCRUTINY OF THE MEDIA, THE COURTS, AND THE STATE ASSEMBLY? Who holds Victoria Bradshaw and Jose Millan accountable? Miles, if you're listening: please don't let them settle with you to the point where they demand a sealed agreement and admit no wrongdoing. Please make it just as hard for them as they make it for everyone else in this agency.

Monday, September 19, 2005


In the near future, the DLSE is training some individuals while others have not been invited. Outside DLSE's walls, training usually makes an employee better at their job. At DLSE, it can be invitation-only! Case-in-point: three subgroups of DLSE staff (Legal, Wage, BoFE) will take part in upcoming citation training. In the subgroup known as "Wage" and fiercely controlled by micromanager Assistant Chief Nance Steffen, she's decided that one rule applies to a favorite and another rule applies to everyone else. Maria Valdez has been permitted to attend the training, and she's the only Deputy Labor Commissioner I from Wage. Everyone else must be a Deputy Labor Commissioner II. Everyone else who asked to attend the training was denied.

Well, that didn't sit too well with a fellow DLC I, so she's filed a grievance. Because of this, it is the public that suffers due to the time and resources that must be devoted to deal with this one issue. It's hard to hear or close cases when you're either filing or responding to internal administrative paperwork. Let's say that Maria's gievance is upheld. Do you actually think that Nance Steffen will be held accountable for her decision-making and judgment skills?

Even when people come to her and try to persuade her to use common sense, she refuses. When that happens, DLSE staff must go above her head where her decision is usually overturned. But it doesn't stop there! She holds a grudge for a very long time! Ask VJ when she banished him to Nor Cal (from So Cal), and he had to fly home every weekend to care for his sick mother; he only returned because a former Labor Commissioner (MS) permitted it, thus infuriating Nance. It's too bad that her new boss, Lupe Almaraz, cannot keep her focused on serving the public more and satisfying personal whims less. The one thing he could do is tell her this: "Okay, play your game, but if so-and-so's grievance is upheld by the arbitrator and it's decided that the DLSE (you) acted inappropriately, then you will be disciplined for your unsound decision as well as not having resolved this beforehand." Ideal, but unrealistic.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


State labor attorney punished for exercising 1st Ammendment

The DLSE, in it's penchant for jamming a stick in a hornet's nest, keeps their very own DLSE labor enforcement attorney on paid leave pending their investigation into him speaking at a luncheon. Click on the San Francisco Chronicle article and read about it.

DLSE is hiring, but look carefully at their vacancy announcement. I haven't read anything about keeping one's mouth shut when one isn't working, but sometimes I miss the fine print. It's also one of the things they skip over during their indoctrination training.

DLSE staff throughout the state are really hoping that those who violated and retaliated against Mr. Locker are disciplined to the fullest possible extent. DLSE management needs to hold themselves accountable, but they don't. It's too bad they cannot adhere to simple standards of conduct. It's really too bad that no one will be singled out & disciplined for violating Mr. Locker's rights of free speech and retaliating against him. If the dog & pony show ever makes a move, then maybe someone might receive some lame demotion/transfer to Fresno, only to come back again years later and in a higher position of authority. That's the DLSE way!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A reporter for the SF Chronicle recently did a story on people employed by the DLSE.
You can view
Christian Berthelsen's article here:
Records of effort to weaken workers' right to meal breaks reveal influence of business

If you're slapped with a $10,000,000 labor lawsuit and you want to make it go away, then Jose Millan is definitely your go-to state employee. Don't worry if he's unavailable, because the state's labor agency has a B-Team: Labor Commissioner Donna Dell and and labor agency teammate Michael Prosio (former retaurant assn. lobbyist). John Kabateck, former chief lobbyist for the California Restaurant Association, now works for the Governator's office at $90,000/year. What's really fascinating is the state's penchant with hiring former restaurant lobbyists.

PAY TO PLAY. State employee Jehan Flagg incinuates that lobbyists' influence and proposed LWDA policy development are mutually exclusive. Try to say that without laughing out loud. Sharing is good, as if the DLSE would want to share a proposed policy of changing the state's minimum wage to $2/hour with only day laborers and busboys. Funny thing, though: this "sharing" appears to be only 1-sided...sharing proposed policy development with the side that has all the money. It seems that resturant assn.'s $21,000 donated to the Governator was well spent. What governmental policy changes can I buy for $22,000? Jose, where are you?

NEVER MAKE JOSE MILLAN MAD OR YOU'LL BE SORRY. Miles Locker is an attorney for the agency charged with enforcing California's labor laws. His job is to protect the workers of California from the abuses that employers impose. In DLSE's tradition of crapping on their own employees, Jose et al made a very public display of their intimidation with how he was removed from active duty and placed on administrative leave. The real message was to the other attorneys: do what we tell you or this can happen to you. If Jose Millan can manage in this capacity without so much as receiving a time-out by his boss, then don't concern yourself with frivolous phrases such as 'conflict of interest' or 'duty of care.'