Watchdogging the Boss: Wage Theft at Universal Protection Service?


Photo by Robert Durell

The first time Brianna Morris noticed her paycheck was wrong was in November. That check started a months-long cycle of agonizing over mistakes by her employer, Universal Protection Service (UPS). Brianna says her checks were wrong far more often than they were right, and that each check was missing between 9 and 20 hours.

“Every time I open up the program to see my paycheck, I have a knot in the pit of my stomach. I wonder how wrong it’s going to be this time.”

Brianna resorted to tracking her own hours three different ways: on her phone, in a notebook, and by making copies of her timesheets.

“It’s stressful to have to fight for what I’m owed,” she says, “and not to know whether I’ll have money to pay my bills.” Although she was working full-time for UPS, Brianna found it necessary to pick up other work to supplement her incorrect paychecks. She patched together work doing hair-braiding, making baskets, and taking care of children three or four days a week.

Brianna never lost her sense that UPS should do right by security officers like her. “Some of my co-workers and I went together to the property manager at our worksite, to explain the issues we had at work, including these stolen wages. We were nervous, and it wasn’t easy. But as soon as we did, UPS started blowing up my phone and sending me emails, wanting to fix the problem.”

The bad news? UPS returned less than $270 of the $750 that Brianna says she’s owed. She is moving forward with a wage claim through the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Watch NBC’s coverage of Silicon Valley security officers’ fight against wage theft here.

Update: Watch real estate decision-makers at CalPERS react to testimony by another UPS officer here. CalPERS is looking into concerns raised by security officers that UPS may not be in compliance with the pension fund’s responsible contracting policy.

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