The San Francisco Chronicle
By Derek Schoonmaker
June 26, 2016 Updated: June 26, 2016 1:46pm

The recent USA Today investigation into the business practices of the Trump Organization — including thousands of lawsuits and widespread allegations of mistreatment of low-wage hourly workers — highlights a problem more troubling than the coarse turn in our political discourse. And it is a problem for which we can and must seek solutions — both locally and nationally.

While Trump and his surrogates might be quick to dismiss much of the litigation as routine contract disputes, the fact is that many of these suits dealt with Trump’s own employees being denied basic rights on the job — including pay for all the hours they worked, legally required breaks, and overtime.

This is called wage theft. And wage theft is a crime against workers, against taxpayers and against honest businesses everywhere. It is especially prevalent in low-wage industries such as construction, food services, custodial services and landscaping — industries that disproportionately employ Latino and immigrant workers.

In California, wage theft costs taxpayers at least $8.5 billion in payroll tax collections yearly (equivalent to roughly 60 percent of the state budget for higher education), and costs workers billions more in income.

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