NEW YORK -- Dealing with disgruntled employees and hot-headed sweatshop owners can take its toll on investigators
While the number of investigators has risen to 20 from eight since the New York State apparel industry task force was founded seven years ago, one or two investigators resign each year, according to Thomas Glubiak, chief labor standards investigator.
Candidates must pass a civil service exam and a one-year probation period before becoming investigators. Some investigators don't think the $27,000 starting salary is worth the stress. Gloria Castille, one of the few Spanish-speaking investigators, said her job opening came when two investigators resigned after one week on the job.
After nine months of experience, Castille said she will return to her former position as a labor services representative in July. She had planned to be an investigator for a couple of years.
"This job is very stressful. I can go back to my old job and still make the same pay," she said.
Violence is rarely an issue, but there have been a few incidents in the past year where shop owners grabbed evidence or shoved investigators,according to Ellen Davidow, senior investigator.
"Whenever we go into these shops, there's a certain edge," she said. "It's an adversarial relationship. We're there to enforce the law. We're trying to develop a rapport with the shop owner but sometimes they really rant and rave."
Auditing, interviewing, serving violations and listening to complaints are taxing, Castille said. Office work, organized sweeps and other special investigations are periodically scheduled to give investigators a break from their routine, Glubiak noted.
"There's a lot of burnout on this job," Glubiak said.
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