Pallet builders are cited and closed

State labor inspectors shut down five downtown wooden-pallet manufacturers Tuesday, citing them for numerous wage and safety violations.

The manufacturers, often set up on vacant lots, were operating without workers' compensation insurance, said Bob Jones, deputy secretary of the state Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

Manufacturers also were paying in cash at levels well below the minimum wage and with no overtime, Jones said.

In the worst example, Sonora Pallets on East 10th Street was found to be paying seven employees $350 each for a six-day workweek, at 12 hours a day, he said.

Also, inspectors found numerous workplace safety violations, with unguarded saws and wiring, Jones said.

Pallet manufacturing is one of the Southland's great underground industries in which both workers and employers are presumed to be illegal immigrants, and much of the pay is in cash well below the minimum wage.

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