A coalition of labor and community groups is arguing that a Chinese-owned company that makes electric vehicles has not been paying living wages, violating its agreement with the city of Los Angeles.
But the company denies the allegations and is defending its pay levels.
Five years ago, Los Angeles agreed to provide $1.6 million in federal funding to help the company open a new headquarters downtown. It was one in a string of government contracts and other investments in Build Your Dreams — known as BYD — to foster green technology and new jobs in Southern California.
As part of the deal, BYD was supposed to create scores of jobs and make “good faith efforts” to hire Angelenos, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But labor activists contend BYD has flouted wage rules. Jobs to Move America, a coalition of labor and community groups, recently lodged a complaint with the city, saying it believed BYD had violated its agreement with Los Angeles by failing to pay a living wage to employees at its downtown facility, The Times reported.
The coalition wants city officials to push to reimburse workers, take the company to court for damages and sue to get taxpayer money back if it fails to comply. City officials have asked the company to hand over documents detailing worker pay. If the complaints are proved, the dispute could jeopardize future government contracts.
BYD denies the allegations and has defended its pay levels, The Times reported. The firm asserts that the living wage rules don’t apply to the L.A. agreement because of a city exemption. The company and its backers argue the real reason labor activists are attacking it is a dispute over the process of possibly unionizing its workers.
“This is just harassment,” said L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who encouraged BYD to open locally, The Times reported.
—City News Service
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