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Saturday, October 5, 2013
Approximately 100 KIWA members, along with thousands of organizations, unions, faith groups, and Los Angeles residents marched through Hollywood for the National Day of Dignity and Respect for Immigrants!
July 25, 2013
KIWA Achieves Victory in Raw Deal Actions against Urasawa Restaurant!
We are excited to announce that KIWA’s efforts to hold Urasawa Restaurant in Beverly Hills accountable for wage theft have ended successfully this week. Please see press release below for more details.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Beverly Hills luxury restaurant Urasawa settles with former employee in wage theft case
In the wake of anti-wage theft campaign led by KIWA, celebrity sushi chef agrees to pay worker stolen wages.
Los Angeles, CA, July 26, 2013 – Yesterday, after a series of KIWA’s Raw Deal actions against Beverly Hills restaurant Urasawa, the world-famous sushi eatery settled the wage claim case brought against it by former employee Heriberto Zamora.
After being abruptly fired because he was sick, Zamora had sought help at KIWA and then filed his wage claim with the State of California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). The agency then also opened a field investigation into the restaurant. Zamora had subsequently become somewhat of a spokesperson against wage theft, shining a light on low-wage workers’ experiences in what became a story garnering attention nationwide.
In mid-March of this year, Urasawa, owned by famed sushi chef Hiroyuki Urasawa, was cited by the DLSE for labor law violations involving wage theft: the illegal underpayment or withholding of wages that employees have earned. The chef-owner appealed the DLSE’s citations, but a June hearing upheld the decision.
Urasawa is known for running the most expensive restaurant in Los Angeles (second-most expensive in the United States), where he charges hundreds of dollars per plate. But the business was found to routinely break multiple labor laws and deny employees their basic rights. Urasawa’s luxurious Two Rodeo Drive address and celebrity clientele have stood in stark contrast to its exploitation of low-income workers.
KIWA highlighted the abuses at Urasawa and more broadly the issue of rampant wage theft in multiple industries in all of greater Los Angeles. Actions included protests and candle light vigils at Urasawa’s tony Beverly Hills location, demanding the restaurateur pay all wages and penalties owed to his former employee Heriberto Zamora and commit to complying with labor laws. KIWA also appealed to the Beverly Hills City Council and other stakeholders making them aware of the issue.
After waiting for more than a year and just minutes before Zamora’s final case hearing at the Labor Commissioner was set to start yesterday, a settlement agreement between Urasawa and his former employee was reached. “I am relieved and happy that justice has finally prevailed,” said Zamora after the meeting, which included his onetime boss. “It wasn’t easy and I fought for more than a year, but now I can tell all workers: you can demand your rights and win!”
KIWA’s executive director, Alexandra Suh, explains, “That KIWA member Heriberto has reached this settlement with Urasawa is an important step in our organization’s larger campaign against wage theft in Los Angeles, where violations average $26 million per week stolen from low-income families.” She continues, “But we cannot stop here. We will continue to call out bad players, who exploit low-wage workers and we will continue to push for the City of Los Angeles to adopt a Wage Theft Ordinance and work for the passage of the California Fair Pay Check Act (AB 1164) as tools to ensure compliance with existing labor laws.
Monday, July 29, 2013 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. with:
- Heriberto Zamora, former Urasawa worker
- KIWA’s Executive Director Alexandra Suh
Founded in 1992, KIWA builds the power of immigrant workers and residents to strengthen a progressive grassroots leadership to transform our workplaces and communities. KIWA serves more than 5,000 workers, tenants and families each year throughout Los Angeles. KIWA’s work includes community organizing campaigns, policy advocacy, workers’ and tenants’ rights services, community-led green space projects, affordable housing development, education programs, civic engagement and leadership development. KIWA’s members are mostly Spanish- and Korean-speaking low-income immigrants who live or work in Koreatown and beyond.