Commerce, California

The City of Commerce, like many of its neighbors, was carved out of the Spanish land-grant ranch area named Rancho San Antonio. The area before it became a city began to industrialize when the rail lines arrived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, joining the region to the rest of the state and country. While Commerce enjoyed the same rapid development that its neighbors did as the automotive and aerospace industries took off in the region, Commerce managed to prevent the bust that followed the retreat of many of the companies in those industries. For instance, the third largest employer in Commerce is a rail terminal management services company, which employs just fewer than nine hundred people. Another large employer in Commerce, employing nearly six hundred workers, is a famous manufacturer of cosmetics, which are distributed and sold nationwide under a variety of well-known brands. Employing a similar number of workers as the cosmetic company is a widely-known manufacturer of tortillas and tortilla products such as chips and other fried snacks. It is commonplace to see that company’s brand in the snack aisle of even the largest chain grocers. Because of its focus on commerce and industry, the city does not have a large population: just below the thirteen thousand resident mark. This population ranks high in terms of concentration of Latino residents, with a little over ninety-three percent.

What manufacturing did not stay in Commerce was replaced by a massive expansion into the retail sector. If one drives by Commerce in either direction on the Golden State Freeway – also known as the Santa Ana Freeway, and to locals as “the Five” or the “I-Five” – a structure that resembles a massive fortress or fortified castle from a different, bygone era cuts an imposing figure and is unlike any other structure in the greater Los Angeles area. Its physical features include large pillars, notches along the upper walls, and large ornamental wall carvings. A recent addition to the fortress walls is the installation of several massive LED screens flashing large-lettered promotional messages from the merchants within to passers-by on the freeway. The structure is actually a collection of such buildings called the Citadel, and it mainly served as a large outlet mall featuring large-scale shops for major clothing brands. Inside the structure is a more familiar sight: a number store fronts and restaurants surrounding a parking lot and a massive parking structure designed to provide incentive to visitors to spend more time and money within the fortress walls.

Given the size and scope of the Citadel, it is actually another prominent feature in Commerce, a casino – actually a card club – that bears the city’s name and performs the role as the main economic anchor for the city. This card club provides a few points below half of the tax revenue income for Commerce. With well over two thousand employees, it is also the city’s largest employer by far. The county, which comes in second, employs fewer than half as many workers. Our office can help workers in Commerce who have been wrongfully terminated due to pregnancy, a disability or medical condition. Workers who have suffered sexual harassment on the job are encouraged to contact our office for a free consultation. We can also help employees who have not been paid the wages they are owed for their labor.