Guam Employer Exploited Chinese Labor

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Failed to pay min wage, barred from hiring foreign labor

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, March 27, 2015) – A Guam employer failed to pay its workers from China minimum wage and it charged the workers $6,000 each for the chance to work on Guam, according to federal court documents.

The company, Acme Universal Inc., which does business as Guam Tile Center, could pay $390,180 in back pay and damages, according to a proposed consent judgment filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court of Guam.

Acme Universal and its president, Xin Bo "Paul" Yu, have agreed to make the payment, according to a proposed consent judgment signed by his attorney, Michael Dotts, and the U.S. Department of Labor's legal team.

Permanently barred

Yu, Acme and the company's officers and directors will be permanently barred from hiring foreign workers, the proposed judgment states.

Yu was in China yesterday when the Pacific Daily News called the tile center for comment.

The 16 Chinese workers who are owed money worked for the residential construction portion of Acme's business, court documents state.

Guam Tile Center sells home improvement materials at a showroom off Route 16 in Harmon.

Deal needs judge's OK

The proposed judgment was filed in federal court after settlement talks last week between federal labor authorities and the attorney for Acme and Yu.

The U.S. Department of Labor sued Acme and Yu in 2012, alleging that both failed to pay workers at least the federal minimum wage and for overtime work that exceeded 40 hours a week.

According to the proposed judgment signed by Acme and federal labor representatives, "Defendants admit that since at least May 16, 2009, defendants hired workers from China, who were brought to Guam to work in Acme's residential construction business."

The federal court has yet to approve the proposed judgment.

Half and half

Acme and Yu have agreed to pay $195,090, which constitutes the unpaid minimum wage and overtime pay for the foreign workers.

An additional equal amount of $195,090 must be paid by the defendants in liquidated damages, for a total of $390,180, the proposed judgment states.

The proposed judgment states Acme and Yu admit that most of the company's foreign worker hires from China had to pay a fee of up to $6,000 each upon starting employment. The workers were hired under the H-2B visa program.

Guam is currently exempted from the annual cap on how many foreign workers can be allowed entry into the United States through the H-2B visa program.

"Defendants admit that defendants deducted up to $500 from the workers' pay each month until the fee ... was fully paid," the proposed judgment states.

The proposed judgment states the defendants should not "retaliate or threaten to retaliate against any employee for reporting, or complaining about any violations" of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The federal law covers minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, record-keeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private and public sectors.

Similar case in Hawaii

In another federal labor case, filed in Honolulu, investigators from the Wage and Hour Division found that eight Japanese workers at a wedding business were paid as little as $4 per hour, a Labor Department press release states.

The Japanese workers entered Hawaii through a J-1 visa training program, but were primarily employed as front-line workers without receiving at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, in violation of the Fair labor Standards Act, according to the Labor Department. The employer, The Wave USA Inc., has paid $35,481 in back wages and damages to the employees. It does business as Ka Nalu Wedding and Blue Blue Flowers, the Labor Department stated.

The employer also failed to pay the overtime for an additional 17 workers, the Labor Department stated.

 

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