LOS ANGELES (March 18, 2016) — A diverse crowd of workers, advocates and journalists gathered at the UCLA Labor Center to celebrate a class action victory for more than 200 employees of Chinese Daily News.
After more than a decade of hard fought litigation, they obtained a $7.8 million settlement against one of the leading Chinese language newspapers in the country. This class action victory represents one of the largest wage justice settlements in Asian American history.
“This great success could not be achieved without the courage, dedication and sacrifice of all of the newspaper workers, who persevered through many difficult years of litigation, its uncertainties and its challenges,” said Randy Renick, Plaintiff Attorney for the case. “In the end, these workers obtained a settlement that not only rewards them for their struggle but will also deliver resources to other workers in their efforts to achieve workplace justice.”
Chinese Daily News workers routinely were subject to unfair labor practices including violations of wage laws. In response, journalists and other workers of the Chinese Daily News began a union organizing campaign which generated national and international support.
Lynne Wang was one of these journalists. “In spite the management’s intense anti-union campaign, the workers still voted 78 to 63 for the union. But the company refused to recognize the union, and pursued their anti-union campaign,” she said. “I was fired from the company, but I knew that we were right, and the company was wrong. After more than 10 years of litigation, and after Chinese Daily News spent millions of dollars in legal fees to fight us, we finally have won our court case.”
The long road of litigation included two trials and multiple appeals. The trials resulted in favorable decisions for the workers who obtained more than $5 million in damages for unpaid wages and penalties. The groundbreaking settlement includes cy pres awards to fund clinics dedicated to serving workers in the Asian American community in the San Gabriel Valley and throughout Los Angeles County.
Many community leaders were present at the celebration. Stewart Kwoh, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA), Congresswoman Judy Chu, and Kent Wong of the UCLA Labor Center all spoke to incredible hardship that the workers underwent and the magnitude of the victory.
“Advancing Justice – LA has a long history of supporting immigrant workers seeking to be paid and treated fairly, said Kwoh. “We hope the courage of the workers in speaking out to protect their legal rights inspires other workers who have experienced wage theft to seek legal assistance.”
According to UCLA research, 83 percent of workers who win their wage theft cases before the California Labor Commissioner are unable to collect any of their unpaid wages. The fact that Chinese Daily News workers are able to receive pay for their losses is significant.
“This is one of the largest wage justice victories for Asian American workers in history,” said Kent Wong of the UCLA Labor Center. “It sends a strong message of encouragement to other Asian immigrant workers who have experienced wage theft.”