Build Community-Government Partnerships to Uphold Labor Laws

We’re working to eliminate wage theft and strengthen worker protections by fostering partnerships between worker organizations.

Adult Latin American man working at a car wash wearing a facemask while cleaning the windows of a car.

Strategic Enforcement Partnership Models

In California, workers are building power by holding abusive employers accountable for wage theft

The California Strategic Enforcement Partnership (CSEP) was formed in 2016 to eliminate wage theft and improve working conditions for workers in eight industries:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Car washes
  3. Construction
  4. Garment manufacturing
  5. Janitorial
  6. Residential care
  7. Restaurants
  8. Warehouses

The partnership is a collaboration between the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, 16 workers’ rights and legal advocacy organizations, and NELP.

CSEP aims to set a precedent in California and the rest of the nation by:

  • Proactively and strategically addressing wage theft in eight targeted industries;
  • Engaging a groundswell of workers to exercise their rights under the law; and
  • Helping to focus the state’s investigative resources on those eight industries where we know there are high rates of violations.

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Taking Strategic Enforcement Partnerships National

Based on our successful California model, NELP established a community-government collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) in 2023 to increase the recovery of stolen wages, foster safe and healthy workplaces, and improve workplace standards in high-violation industries.

The Department of Labor Strategic Engagement Partnership (DSEP) is creating a model for federal engagement between the USDOL and worker centers in six locations across the U.S., in job sectors that persistently fail to comply with baseline protections:

  • Agriculture
  • Domestic homecare
  • Construction
  • Food processing
  • Warehouse

The workers organizing transformed their workplace from one where they were experiencing wage theft and feeling a lack of respect. They turned an abusive restaurant environment to a model workplace.

Shaw San Liu, Chinese Progressive Association

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