BYD Motors, the American subsidiary of a Chinese company set to build Long Beach Transit's first electric bus fleet, is coming under fire this week from both LBT and the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
At this week's LBT Board meeting, seven of the nine subassemblies for the new fleet were not approved for use—this just two weeks after further welding issues were discovered in the frames and bracket installation and just two months after cracks were discovered near the rear of the BYD bus undergoing Altoona testing.
Additionally, the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement opened an investigation against BYD Motors last month, including alleged labor violations at the Lancaster plant where LBT's 10 buses are slated to be constructed.
According to the New York Times, BYD has received a $99,245 bill for failing to provide workers at its Los Angeles office and Lancaster factory California minimum wage, workers' compensation insurance, proper rest breaks and sufficient pay documentation. Over $79K account for fines while nearly $20K are included for back wages involving 22 employees.
The five citations issued on Oct. 10 accuse BYD Motors of employing Chinese-national workers who were being payed (in yuan) $1.50 an hour with an $50 a day allowance and were living in America temporarily in dormitory-style housing in the San Gabriel Valley. Despite claiming that the Lancaster plant would provide jobs for 200 out-of-work city residents, the company has employed fewer than 40 workers.
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"BYD has hidden abusive treatment of Chinese workers and substandard electric buses behind a false promise to provide good jobs and clean transportation to Angelenos across the county," said Madeline Janis, National Policy Director of Los Angeles Alliance for the New Economy (LAANE). "These shocking allegations should prompt Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority and Long Beach Transit to reconsider their contracts with BYD."
It remains unclear as to what the implications are for the contract LBT holds with BYD, but LAANE plans on holding a protest outside BYD's Los Angeles office on Halloween that will request that LBT, LA Metro, and the City of Los Angeles all abandon their contracts with BYD.
"Electric buses can provide clean transportation for our community, when made safely by American workers with good jobs," Janis said. "Several electric bus manufacturers with proven job creation and safety records were unfairly passed over for these contracts because of BYD’s outrageous deception."
The demonstration will occur tomorrow, October 31, from 11:30AM to 12:30PM at the BYD Los Angeles Office, located at 1800 S. Figueroa St. in Los Angeles.
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