Report of Chinatown Worker Abuse Has Echoes of 2004 Film

Categories: Doggy Bag

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Last week press reports referenced the study by the Chinese Progressive Association documenting worker abuses in Chinatown restaurants. The study ― "Check, Please!" ― lacked the irrepressibly blonde Leslie Sbrocco (host of the KQED viewer review show with a similar name). In fact, there was nothing smiley about it. The Bay Citizen's Tess Townsend plucked out the report's bullet points of shame:

It found that 50 percent or more of workers earn below minimum wage, have experienced burn injury on the job or do not have health insurance from their employers. Eighty percent of workers surveyed reported unpaid overtime, 30 percent reported their wages being withheld and 15 percent reported their pay being delayed. ... In addition to low pay, workers face job-related health problems. About 60 percent of workers surveyed reported bodily pain and half reported physical exhaustion.
It brought us straight back to the 2004 indie film Take Out, by Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou, which documents a day in the life of a delivery guy for a New York Chinese restaurant. Korean-American actor Charles Jang plays Ming Ding, an illegal Hong Kong immigrant being squeezed for his smuggling fee ― the tension on Jang's face grips you like an MSG flush. You feel shitty for every server or counter guy you ever got impatient with, stiffed for bad service, glared at, or wished you had. Put it one your NetFlix queue and then ― what ― boycott Chinatown?

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com
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