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Friday, September 17, 2010

Half of Chinatown Restaurant Workers Earn Less Than Minimum Wage

Posted By on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 11:31 AM

But it all looks so quaint...
  • But it all looks so quaint...
But it all looks so quaint...
The orange chicken at the Chinese muzak-playing restaurants on Grant Street may taste a little bitter after digesting this unsavory morsel: It turns out a full 50 percent of Chinatown restaurant workers earn less than the city's minimum wage, according to a study released by the Chinese Progressive Association and the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) today. Minimum wage was $9.36 at the time of the study, but $9.79 now.

The workers keeping up the facade of a cheery Chinatown for the tourists

are actually exposed to "sweatshop working conditions," according to a DPH press release.

One out of five workers are putting in more than 60 hours a week, and still, 95 percent do not earn a living wage. On average, the report found, Chinatown restaurant workers make $8.17 an hour. But 27 percent are making at or below $6.25 an hour, while another 13 percent make at or below $5 an hour.

It's not so savory, now, is it.
  • It's not so savory, now, is it.
It's not so savory, now, is it.

Many can only afford to live with their families in

cramped SROs of just 80 square feet, the study said. Additionally, in the city famous for pioneering universal health care, only 3 percent of workers

have any employer-provided health care.

The report recommends that city become more

proactive about enforcing labor and health and safety laws, and produce a guide of responsible businesses that pay a living wage.


health department cannot stand on the sidelines," says Rajiv Bhatia,

the director of occupational and environmental health for the Department

of Public Health, in a statement. "We've decided to use our regulatory

tools to ensure that all businesses we permit are achieving a healthy

standard for workers."

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Lauren Smiley


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