LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A coalition of community groups gathered Thursday outside the offices of a Chinese electric bus manufacturer in downtown Los Angeles to protest alleged labor law violations.
The California Department of Industrial Relations fined Build Your Dreams (BYD) Electronic Company nearly $80,000 on Oct. 10 for violating labor laws in Los Angeles and Lancaster.
BYD was also ordered to pay nearly $20,000 in back wages for violations involving 22 employees, including some workers at the company’s Lancaster facility, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Times reports BYD paid some Chinese workers at its Los Angeles site just $1.50 an hour.
In response, community, labor, faith, and immigrant groups gathered at the company’s office office, 1800 S. Figueroa, to call on public agencies — including the L.A. Metropolitan Transit Authority and Long Beach Public Transportation Authority — to sever economic ties with BYD for its alleged “rotten treatment of workers and hollow promises of good jobs for Angelenos.”
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) protest organizer Rachele Huennekens told KNX 1070’s Margaret Carrero the company has a civic responsibility to both its workers and the city at large.
“We’re saying, ‘BYD, we know what treatment you have of your workers, and we want you to hold up to these promises you’ve made of creating good jobs for Los Angeles residents,” Huennekens said.
Back in 2010, BYD was touted by then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as a company that would bring hundreds of high-dollar jobs to the city of Los Angeles.
In a written statement, BYD said many of its Chinese workers are visiting on a temporary basis to train their American workforce, and they remain dedicated to not only hiring more California workers, but properly paying them under the state’s wage and hour laws, Carrero reported.
BYD opened a defunct RV plant in Lancaster after Long Beach transit officials voted in March to award the Shenzhen-based firm with a $14 million project to build a fleet of ten electric buses aimed at providing zero-emission public transportation.