Rick Rice (LA)
SAN FRANCISCO--Results of the first year of operation by the Targeted Industries Partnership Program (TIPP), a joint federal, state and local government education and enforcement effort, are highlighted in TIPP - The First Year in Review, being issued by the California Department of Industrial Relations, director Lloyd W. Aubry, Jr. has announced.
The TIPP program is focused on California's garment and agricultural industries, two industries which have historically experienced a high incidence of labor and employment tax law violations.
"TIPP has a two-fold purpose," Aubry said. "First, by educating employers about their responsibilities it serves to increase compliance among those who want to play by the rules. Secondly, through TIPP's targeted enforcement program, it attempts to protect employees and law-abiding employers in these industries from the abusive and undercutting effects of those who habitually operate in violation of state and federal laws."
At its core is an agreement between three primary partners, government agencies having authority over enforcement of labor and employment tax laws in California, the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement within the Department of Industrial Relations, the state Employment Development Department and the United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. There have been up to twelve other state and local agencies working in concert during individual TIPP activities.
Aubry lauded the headway made by the TIPP program in its first year. "TIPP is a unique creation, reflecting Governor Pete Wilson's desire for the most effective use of taxpayer funds, under which the efforts of various state, federal and local government agencies, as well as many publicly funded advocacy groups, are coordinated to enhance services for those who rely on them most."
William Buhl, Regional Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, stated "These two industries have historically had a very high rate of violations. We want to send the message that employers who disregard basic federal and state labor laws designed to protect workers on the job will face severe consequences."
The report outlines how TIPP has developed, explains its methodology and details both the educational and enforcement efforts made under the umbrella program since it began operations in November, 1992. Also included in the report are plans for the second year.
Two of the lead agencies under TIPP enforce wage and hour laws, the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, and conducted 1,548 inspections in the first year. These investigations resulted in $1,779,395 in estimated wages due to workers and over $6 million in assessed civil penalties. In addition, 144 criminal citations were issued to employers involved in illegal operations in garment manufacturing and agriculture.
Cal/OSHA, also a partner in the program, conducted 428 TIPP inspections, finding 925 violations of California workplace safety and health laws, which resulted in $449,718 in assessed penalties.
The California Department of Housing and Community Development, which enforces rules governing farm worker housing in several agricultural areas of the state, assisted in 25 inspections, and found 423 violations, for which $8,654 in penalties were assessed.
On the local level, the Los Angeles County Department of Health participated in 105 TIPP inspections and scheduled 15 hearings for violations of local health ordinances occurring within its jurisdiction.
The Targeted Industries Partnership Program operates under the direction of California's labor commissioner, Victoria Bradshaw. "In TIPP there are no new laws to enforce, nor are there any new statutes, regulations, or procedures with which to contend," she comments. "The difference is that under TIPP, the enforcement and informational data bases of the participating agencies are pooled, so that we are better able to accurately target those employers with a history of various violations who operate within and to the detriment of the garment manufacturing and agricultural industries."
Each agency then pursues its cases under its own procedures and laws that it is charged to enforce. A sampling of agencies that have participated in TIPP enforcement actions, that have not already been mentioned, includes, the California Highway Patrol; the California Department of Pesticide Regulation; the Orange County District Attorney's office, welfare fraud unit; county Agricultural Commissioners for Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Imperial, Riverside, San Diego and Santa Barbara counties; city and county district attorney's offices of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Monterey, San Benito and San Francisco; the Monterey County Sheriff's Department; the County Health Departments for Monterey and Riverside counties; the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health; the Riverside County Hazardous Waste Department; the State Compensation Insurance Fund; and more.
"In addition to the cooperation TIPP has received from various government agencies in its first year, we have also benefited from the valuable support of a number of publicly funded advocate groups," Bradshaw said. "It is encouraging to see that these groups, who are funded to help improve conditions for many workers, have found it beneficial to support the efforts of TIPP."
A year-end meeting of the participating agencies produced additional refinements to the program. Plans for TIPP's second year include, in addition to an increased emphasis on employer education, an expanded role in the identification of systemic and egregious enforcement problems at the local level through the creation of locally-based advocate committees. These committees will be comprised of local representatives from the lead agencies in TIPP, employee advocates , as well as farm workers and garment workers. Other plans include participation by the Internal Revenue Service in a number of education and enforcement efforts.
Note to Editors: A copy of TIPP - The First Year in Review, is available by writing to the California Department of Industrial Relations, Office of the Director, P.O. Box 60309, San Francisco, CA 94102, Attn.: Report.