Irwindale is a sprawling city of relatively few people surrounded by more populated San Gabriel Valley cities and neighborhoods, such as Duarte and Bradbury resting at the foothills of the San to the north, Gabriel Mountains; Azusa, Citrus, Vincent and Covina to the east; and Baldwin Park an West Covina to the south. Irwindale’s western neighbors are the cities and neighborhoods of Monrovia, Mayflower Village, North El Monte and El Monte. The main freeways serving Irwindale’s commuters are the Foothill Freeway, often referred to as “the two-ten,” heading east and west, just cutting off the northwestern corner of the city; the San Bernardino Freeway, known across the state as “the ten,” which runs from one coast of the country to the other and passes a few miles south of Irwindale; and the San Gabriel River Freeway, stated numerically “the six-oh-five,” which runs through the city north to south at a slight angle from the center-northern border to the southwestern corner.
This access to these freeways is necessary for the main business of Irwindale. A satellite view of the city reveals a large number of huge rock quarries, open pit mines extracting building materials, and around seventeen gravel pits. This history of mining has created yet another industry within Irwindale: toxic waste cleanup. Years of using toxic chemicals in the mineral extraction process has tainted the groundwater used for drinking and agriculture. The whole city, along with some of its surrounding communities, has been deemed a site qualified for a dedicated cleanup program pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. So in addition to the companies that run the quarries and mines, there are companies contracted to do the task of making the land safe for future development into green space such as parks and recreation areas, or on which to build homes and businesses.
Irwindale’s largest employer by a wide margin is the electric utility company responsible for bringing power to around fourteen million residents and employees in southern California. In Irwindale, the company employs more than two thousand five hundred workers. Among the facilities operated by the company in this city is an energy education center, which provides classes for business owners and managers teaching them how to build and run their operations more energy efficiently. Second on the list of largest employers is a company whose name is likely familiar to many who shop the produce aisles in grocery stores. The company’s one thousand nine hundred employees cut, wash, and package fresh produce in clear plastic bags, taking care of the initial steps of salad making for consumers. Third on the list of most employees is a local brewery owned by one of the world’s largest beverage companies. Driving through Irwindale on the two-ten, one would find it hard to miss the sight of the brewery’s imposing structure, yet with around five hundred thirty workers, this brewery hires a fraction of the employees working at the food packaging company. While the scope of the mining operations in Irwindale is as great as it is, none of the companies affiliated with the industry reaches the top ten in terms of number of employees. Food production, including that of a famous local hot sauce known for the rooster on the bottle, employs far more workers. And this industry is frequently known to exploit employees by violating their right to lunch breaks, rest breaks, overtime pay, and in some cases minimum-wage pay for their labor. If you feel that your rights are being or were violated by your employer, call our office for a free consultation.