The Mexican laborers building Rivian’s EVs are finally getting paid for all of their work, according to the Chicago Tribune. An investigation into the labor practices of the company’s subcontractors found those subcontractors were not paying their laborers overtime.
That investigation, by the Illinois Department of Labor, discovered a rabbit hole through which workers were not getting the wages they were owed. Essentially, subcontractors hired subcontractors who hired other subcontractors and so on.
It goes like this: Rivian hired a Chinese company called Guangzhou Mino Equipment to build its production line. Guangzhou then hired a Spanish company called IT8 Software Engineering to do the work Rivian hired it to do. IT8 then hired another company out of Mexico called LAM Automation. LAM then used Mexican laborers who traveled to Rivan’s Normal, IL plant to do the work Guangzhou was supposed to do (I know, it’s a mess). The Tribune elaborates a little more by saying the subcontractors worked with Mexican laborers to obtain visas that would allow them to do work for plants like Rivian in the U.S.
The entanglement of subcontractors screwed over the laborers because everything was just too unnecessarily complex. Mino and IT8 had control over the laborers, but LAM was supposed to be the subcontractor that actually paid the workers. There were 54 laborers in total at the Normal plant working 60 to 80 hours per week, who were not seeing any of that 20 to 40 extra hours of overtime paid for. And in the state of Illinois, law requires a premium of 150 percent of regular hourly wages above the standard 40 hour week.
It was an anonymous tip that lead state investigators to look into the overtime pay. After the investigation, the state ordered LAM to pay $100,000 while IT8 and Mino had to pay $145,000, each. According to the attorney general’s office, laborers could see 270 percent of overtime wages paid to them.