The San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) was established in 2001 as the first municipal labor standards enforcement agency in the country. Initially responsible for prevailing wage enforcement, OLSE has since expanded to include enforcement authority for over 25 laws. San Francisco has been at the forefront of passing innovative legislation to better protect workers, including four ordinances that were a first for any American municipality: the minimum wage, paid sick leave, formula retail, and paid parental leave ordinances. As other cities look to San Francisco as a model for labor standards enforcement and as OLSE has been enforcing the municipal minimum wage ordinance since 2004, researchers with the Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO) at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, chose to study San Francisco’s minimum wage enforcement to determine the degree to which workers’ complaints in a given industry match overall industry compliance.
These findings can be used to help develop strategic enforcement* efforts designed to optimize resources and maximize impact in San Francisco. Specifically, this study analyzes the relationship between minimum wage complaints filed with OLSE and estimates of underlying minimum wage violations, using data from the U.S. government’s monthly survey of labor force participation (called CPS-MORG survey data).