Fellowships | FUSE CORPS
Enforcing Wage Standards to Lift Minimum Wage Workers out of Poverty
Bureau of Contract Administration
Los Angeles, CA

“Enforcing Wage Standards to Lift Minimum Wage Workers out of Poverty” 
Los Angeles Bureau of Contract Administration 
Los Angeles, CA 

PROJECT CONTEXT

In June 2015, Los Angeles enacted a historic increase toward a $15 per hour minimum wage by the year 2020. It is estimated that the increase will help more than 600,000 Angelenos pay their rent, provide for their families and ultimately rise out of poverty. The wage increase also included a paid sick leave requirement, making Los Angeles the first big city to implement both of these measures at the same time. Implementation has already begun, with July 2016 marking the first phased increase in the minimum wage. However, enforcement remains a crucial concern for many reasons including wage theft, or the denial of wages rightfully owed to an employee. Recent reports identify Los Angeles as the wage theft capital of the country, with an estimated $1.4 billion in wage violations per year, more than twice that of New York City or Chicago. Wage theft affects two thirds of the 750,000 low-wage workers in L.A. County and the average worker loses more than $2,600 to wage theft or 15% of their annual income. Workers in low-wage industries are most vulnerable to wage theft, including those employed by garment, cafeteria, fast-food, retail and residential construction businesses as well as those working as janitors and in restaurants or households. 

The Office of Wage Standards (OWS) within the Bureau of Contract Administration (BCA) was established in 2015 to implement and enforce the minimum wage and paid sick leave requirements on all businesses headquartered or doing business in the City of Los Angeles. In addition, the OWS has been tasked with administering and enforcing the Fair Chance Ordinance, which removes barriers for persons with criminal histories when applying for positions that perform work within city limits or on city contracts. Currently, the OWS is in the process of hiring a staff of 22 positions and establishing the administrative infrastructure to inform affected employers and employees about the new requirements, and enforce payment of the wage and sick leave requirements. Work has begun on establishing a Fair Chance Ordinance program. 

To support effective and efficient implementation and enforcement of these wage standards, the BCA will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive-level Fellow for one year who will assess the implementation to date and identify areas where programs may be improved, helping ensure that hundreds of thousands of minimum wage workers are truly able to climb the ladder out of poverty. 

PROJECT SUMMARY

The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the Fellow, and FUSE staff during the first month of the project, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the Fellow and the host agency. 

Starting in October 2017, it is proposed that the FUSE Fellow will begin by conducting an analysis of the OWS’s implementation strategy to date. This will include a review of organizational structure, resource allocation, administrative procedures, and performance metrics. With a solid understanding of the OWS’s programs, the fellow will then be tasked with conducting a study of peer agencies to identify best practices and where the OWS may be able to improve program design and implementation. 

The fellow will also collect data, conduct surveys, strengthen relationships with local business associations, and help organize community and business owner feedback. The fellow will aim to gauge anticipated impacts of the new ordinances on affected stakeholders and better inform the processes and actions of OWS. 

The fellow will then prepare written recommendations with implementation strategies to address any areas for improvement. Recommendations should address enforcement strategies and identify industry sectors with high rates of non-compliance that could be targeted with proactive enforcement efforts. The recommendations should encourage stakeholder involvement throughout the enforcement process by providing easier ways for business owners and the community to voice their needs and concerns. Ideally, the OWS will serve as a model for cities around the country that want to emulate innovative approaches to creating a more livable, equitable, and productive city. 

POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES 
 
  • Conduct a thorough review of the current landscape of the OWS – Review the OWS’ implementation approach, organizational chart, division of duties, workload, resource allocation and needs, and performance metrics to gain a thorough understanding of OWS operations. Identify challenges and barriers to successful administration of wage standards given the current organizational structures and processes. 
  • Engage stakeholders and analyze feedback – Establish relationships with business associations and the larger community and conduct research and analysis on anticipated impact of enforcing wage standards. Disseminate findings among agencies and other internal stakeholders. 
  • Perform a best-practice analysis of peer agencies, develop written recommendations and an action plan, and begin implementation – Research the procedures and practices of other major cities with similar programs to identify best practices and performance benchmarks. Prepare written recommendations and an action plan with strategies and timelines for implementation. Identify and implement the most likely “early wins” that can be accomplished within the year to improve operations and set a path toward sustained improvement. 

KEY STAKEHOLDERS
 
  • John L. Reamer, Jr., Inspector of Public Works, Bureau of Contract Administration
  • Kimberly Fitzpatrick, Office of Wage Standards Division Manager, Bureau of Contract Administration
  • Hannah Choi, Office of Contract Compliance Division Manager, Bureau of Contract Administration 

QUALIFICATIONS
 
  • At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in program design and management or public policy research and evaluation. Experience in labor relations or workplace employment conditions preferred. 
  • Strong interest in understanding the economic and employment conditions of underserved individuals and communities. Knowledgeable and passionate about meeting the distinct needs of small and large business owners.
  • Exceptional communication skills and emotional intelligence. Ability to effectively engage a wide range of diverse audiences with varying perspectives. 
  • Superior critical thinking and analytical skills. Ability to synthesize information from a variety of sources into clear and concise recommendations. Creatively resourceful in coming up with novel solutions to complex problems.  
  • Self-motivated, project-driven, independent worker. Ability to implement and execute plans within deadlines. Persistent in obtaining information. Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous environments. 
  • Flexibility, adaptability, persistence, humility, inclusivity and sensitivity to cultural differences. 
  • Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with ease in public presentations. 

TO APPLY 

Click the link below to upload a resume and complete the online application questions in lieu of a cover letter. The application process will allow you to indicate interest in more than one fellowship opportunity. You only need to submit one application. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible, as selections will be made on a rolling basis and specific opportunities may close quickly. 

This role offers the opportunity to work full time for 12 months as an independent contractor of FUSE Corps with an annual stipend of $90,000 paid through monthly installments. 

The FUSE Fellowship is an equal opportunity program with a core value of incorporating diverse perspectives. We strongly encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply.

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APPLY: Enforcing Wage Standards to Lift Minimum Wage Workers out of Poverty


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