In the heart of Koreatown, LA, grocery store workers like Antonia Gonzalez from Hannam Chain are raising their voices against alleged workplace discrimination and inadequate pay. Despite being deemed essential during the pandemic, many immigrant wage workers continue to face exploitation.
Gonzalez, once a dedicated kitchen worker at Hannam Chain, was abruptly shifted to a cashier role without proper training and now navigates challenges like inebriated customers. Moreover, she claims a distinct bias against promoting non-Korean employees.
Such stories about Koreatown workers discrimination echo across the area’s businesses. A recent survey by KIWA highlights that Latino workers experience labor law violations at almost quadruple the rate of white counterparts.
Meanwhile, the American branch of South Korea’s air purifier giant, Coway, sees its workers battling similar challenges. Earning mainly commission-based wages, employees like Mimi Deboer allege the company withholds payments unfairly. And despite accumulating over 40 hours a week, they receive benefits equivalent to part-time roles. Coway’s silence after workers voted for a contract only fuels the discontent.
With the disparity in wealth distribution more evident post-pandemic, essential workers are actively seeking change. Genwa Korean BBQ notably achieved what’s touted as the first labor contract at a Korean restaurant in the U.S., marking a significant step forward.