FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IR #2002-14
Tuesday, October 8, 2002

CONTACT:
Dean Fryer
Susan Gard
(415) 703-5050


MEDIA ADVISORY
State labor commissioner to pay Wins employees' back wages


Event

The California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), in cooperation with Sweatshop Watch, the Chinese Progressive Association and the Women's Employment Rights Clinic of Golden Gate University, will pay over $865,000 in back wages owed to more than 200 employees of former garment contractor Wins of California and associates.

Date & time

Wednesday, October 9, 2002
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Address

The state building, 455 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, ground floor conference center

Special information

Background information

Wins workers' back wages are being paid out of a special garment worker fund established by the state. A portion of licensing fees paid by California's garment contractors and manufacturers is set aside to ensure that workers are paid when wages owed by irresponsible contractors and manufacturers are not forthcoming.
The garment worker fund has a payout cap of $50,000 per year, but several months back the state labor commissioner asked the legislature for an exception to that cap, which would allow payment of over $865,000 owed to Wins employees. Recent legislative approval of the exception allowed the state to move forward and secure checks for workers.

This complex case was opened in July 2001, when an investigation by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement found that garment contractor Wins of California's employees were not being paid. The investigation uncovered an organization that included San Francisco garment shops Wins of California, Win Industries of America and Win Fashions, as well as Utah-based manufacturer, Tomi Inc. Through Tomi Inc., Wins sold garments to K-Mart, JC Penny, Sears, TJ Maxx, Sam's Club, Mervyn's, Bebe, It's my Baby, Kandy Kiss, Cut Loose, Two Star Dog, Flapdoodles, M.B. Sport and the U.S. Army/Air Force Exchange.

After initial attempts to recover workers' wages from Wins companies principal owners Anna Wong, Jimmy Quan and Jenny Wong were rebuffed, California Labor Commissioner Arthur Lujan filed suit against the trio to prevent them from transferring ownership of eight properties in San Francisco and Oakland, estimated to be worth in excess of $6 million. The labor commissioner won a $2.1 million writ of attachment on the properties in San Francisco Superior Court and will go forward with the lawsuit to secure payment of civil penalties for Win's workers.

To date, Wins owners have not paid a dime of back wages owed to workers.

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