SAN FRANCISCO -- With its legendary culture and cuisine, Chinatown is one of the crown jewels of San Francisco, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
But because of a new report, many people might be shocked to learn how the people who serve them here are treated. “These numbers are outrageous, and frankly they are criminal,” said SF Board of Supervisors President David Chiu.The UC Berkeley, UCSF, and San Francisco Department of Public Health study found that 50 percent of restaurant workers don't make the city's minimum wage of $9.79 an hour.While 40 percent work overtime, 76 percent of them are not paid overtime. And 64 percent received no on the job training leading to more injuries.“She did not get minimum wage. There were no health care benefits, no health insurance at all. And she worked very long days with no breaks,” said former restaurant worker Li Shuang Li. “The number one cause of premature death and poor health in this country is poverty,” said Prof. Meredith Minkler from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. “So, if they're not getting minimum wage, if their tips are being ripped off, they're at risk.”The Chinese Progressive Association, which spearheaded the effort, says many of the restaurants mistreat workers.At two restaurants named, the Great Oriental and the New Kingtin, workers say their businesses are not guilty.To turn things around, study supporters said Friday that there must be more investment in Chinatown, stronger enforcement of labor, health and safety laws, and a low wage workers' bill of rights.