Day 1: Overworked and underpaid
A Gazette investigation has identified at least seven Chinese restaurants where workers may be making less than the legal minimum — and that’s without taking into account the time-and-a-half overtime pay many employers provide for work beyond the standard 40-hour week.
Most Americans would never accept a new job without knowing where it was and what the hours would be. Nor would they take an apartment without knowing if it meant a bedroom to themselves or a living room floor shared six ways. Undocumented workers don't always have that luxury.
Some of the restaurant owners who acknowledged paying workers less than the legal minimum in initial interviews with the Gazette offered different accounts when a reporter asked follow-up questions about the legality of that practice.
The laws dictating what restaurants are required to pay their workers aren’t easy to understand — particularly in Massachusetts.
Day 2: Worker housing often substandard
Restaurant owners tout the housing they provide workers as an “employee benefit,” but a Gazette investigation found such housing isn’t always so beneficial.
Amy Pan thinks about selling the Golden China Pan restaurant she owns in Easthampton, saying their two employees make more than she does. And they only make minimum wage.
Day 3: Workers struggle for jobs, dignity
Out of a job and a place to live after a Northampton restaurant closed, a group of undocumented immigrants head to a cluster of job agencies in Chinatown in New York City to start over.
Coming to the United States from China 14 years ago, Lin Geng hoped for something better. He found a succession of restaurant jobs that featured 72-hour weeks and pay that until recently ran well below the legal minimum.