Adat Shalom—The Peaceful Community? by Rosemary Jenkins

Adat Shalom—The Peaceful Community?

by Rosemary Jenkins     January 16, 2018     LA Progressive

In many languages (Hebrew, Arabic, Indonesian, Tagalog), the word adat has the same meanings—the community that promotes values of just and respectful treatment of all who live within its boundaries. “Shalom” means peace (among other meanings). Together, the two words, adat shalom, combine to mean “the peaceful community” or “the people of peace.”

If that is the case, then how can a business, purportedly created to care for the elderly and disabled, function in a profane and immoral way? Adat Shalom (not to be confused with the synagogue in Los Angeles) is a board and care facility with six structures in the west San Fernando Valley. Its eponymous meaning is in direct contradiction to how it actually functions. The fact is that all of our elderly and disabled depend on the quality of care provided by staff at any such facility, so when staff is mistreated and abused in a variety of ways, the expected high level of treatment cannot help but be diminished. Unfortunately, such is the case with Adat Shalom Board and Care.

The numerous grievances filed by its staff (mostly Pilipinos, Latinos, and Blacks) contain charges which allege such outrageous violations, that they fly in the face of what a peaceful community is expected to be. The primary goal of a board and care facility must be promoting the welfare of the patients living there. The Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) asserts that “[T]he quality of care and consistency of care (are) impacted by working conditions.” Adat Shalom seems to ignore these edicts altogether.

The employees, in order to do their best work as care-givers, must be treated well themselves—with respect, dignity, fair pay, appropriate work hours, time allotted for meals, appropriate time off in accordance with law, consideration of safety, and so forth. As the PWC states: “All workers, regardless of their age, gender, race, or immigration status, deserve fair wages and fair working conditions.”

As background, you may remember that not that long ago, hundreds of people worked with a variety of organizations and Los Angeles City and County Boards to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, to advocate for health and safety issues, and to create an oversight bureau within the City and County to receive grievances in order to resolve problems brought to its attention and to penalize those employers who are found guilty of labor infractions. (I have written numerous articles on this subject. You may want to look them up.)

The California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights was passed in 2013 (AB 241) and made permanent in 2016 (SB 1015). Before and since, there has been an ongoing wage enforcement campaign that is extending its work beyond the borders of California to every state in the union. In addition to the Pilipino Workers Center, which is working diligently on this issue, other groups are involved in a coalition to advance the protections afforded by the above-referenced laws: Caring Across America, LAANE (Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy), CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice), KIWA (Korean Immigrant Workers Association), SCOPE (Strategic Concepts in Organizing & Policy Education), the Californian Domestic Workers Coalition, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and more.

What we have at the Adat Shalom Board and Care facility is a deliberate policy to disregard the rights of its employees, often literally stealing from them to the detriment of quality care for the patients there.

What we have at the Adat Shalom Board and Care facility is a deliberate policy to disregard the rights of its employees, often literally stealing from them to the detriment of quality care for the patients there. Because of the various oversight departments handling these matters, Adat Shalom has already been assigned penalties for wage theft and other labor violations in the amount of over $7 million. Workers there (many of whom care for people suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s) are on call 24 hours a day, six days a week, but are so severely underpaid that their average wage per hour amounts to $3. Clearly, these skilled employees not only do not receive the minimum (living wage) as designated by state and local law, but also do not get paid overtime (which is illegal), are not given time off for meals and rest breaks, and are not provided with pay stubs that include all the required information (including the actual hours worked and the overtime accrued).

Because Baby Boomers are approaching or have reached retirement, the need for board and care facilities and trained workers is ever increasing. Active oversight over the living conditions of these patients (whether in a residential care facility or in-home) must be a priority. Clearly, their care is tied directly to the way their caretakers are treated. By tradition, these workers for the most part have been and continue to be women of color (dating back to slave and Jim Crow days) and immigrant women, their work has not been recognized as “genuine work” that affords them the same rights and privileges due every other employee. Because these thought processes are being challenged now more than ever, we are beginning to witness increasing action to address these serious breaches of law.

It was the choice of those filing the current grievances to partner with the California State Labor Commissioner’s Office rather than file with local bureaus (more power is with the state). The State has prioritized the Adat Shalom case (Southern California’s largest wage theft case in the last three years) and since the owner of this facility is appealing the injunctions and penalties, the case will be heard in the near future, most likely in March or April.

It is incumbent upon us to contact the owner/operator, Angelica Reingold, as soon as possible to let her know the extent to which we oppose her actions toward her staff and, consequently, her patients and, therefore, support the lawsuit against her and her company. She can be contacted as follows:

Angelica Reingold, Owner/Operator, Adat Shalom Board and Care: (818) 704-9090

Furthermore, I encourage you to contact the following:

  • The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement of the Labor Relations Commissioner’s Office—a division within the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) can also be contacted: 844-LABOR-DIR or 844-522-6734
  • The Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California is one of the plaintiffs: Aquilina Soriano Versoza, Executive Director, 213-250-4353, aqui@pwcsc.org.

If domestic employees wish to file a complaint through this center, they can contact the following:

  • Lolit: 213-344-8370
  • Meds: 213-235-7886
  • EMPLEO PINOY Hotline: 877-885-6641; 877-TULONG1
  • Caring Across Generations: Janet Kim, Caring Across Generations Communications Directorjanet@caringacross.org, 917-596-5519

It is our turn to speak out about such injustice. Just as we have rallied in the past to create the current laws affecting nearly all employees in the state and just as we are getting involved with so many other worthwhile movements (Time’s Up, Me Too, DACA, and so forth), so must we act now regarding this pressing labor matter, the outcome of which will not only affect Adat Shalom employees (and their patients) but anyone (with few exceptions) who works for an employer in California.

NOTE: Rosemary Jenkin is the author of a new historical fiction novel, The Southern Phoenix https://www.amazon.com/dp/1544925743/ 344 pages.

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