Sweatshop Conditions Reported in California

Sweatshop Conditions Reported in California

(RightWing.org) – Do you look for “Made in USA” on labels as a sign something was ethically manufactured by American workers? If so, it might be time to think again. A new report shows many workers in ultra-liberal California are laboring in third-world conditions.

On March 22, the Department of Labor released a report on the garment industry in Southern California. Its contents are shocking. Inspectors visited 50 randomly selected garment factories — contractors that make clothes for big-name brands — and discovered a staggering list of violations. They found the following:

  • 80% of contractors violated the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act
  • 64% didn’t keep accurate pay or working time records
  • More than half paid workers off the books and falsified (or didn’t keep) records
  • 32% paid per-piece rates, in violation of state law
  • 80% paid below minimum wage — in one case just $1.58 per hour

Marissa Nuncio, the director of the Los Angeles-based Garment Worker Center, says she regularly hears about wage theft — where workers aren’t paid all of what they’re due — from her members. She said the report highlighted “familiar patterns of exploitation” in the industry and called for better enforcement of the law.

The garment industry in Los Angeles is the largest in the US; around 83% of US-manufactured clothes are produced there. However, the industry is notorious for violating the standards we expect for US workers. It relies heavily on migrant labor — in 2021, 42% of garment industry workers were immigrants. While Labor Department inspectors don’t check immigration status, it’s widely suspected many are illegals, who are easy to exploit because they don’t want to attract the attention of government agencies.

Now, federal officials say they want to make businesses more accountable. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen as long as unscrupulous employers have an endless flow of illegal labor to hire from. To protect workers and create well-paying jobs for Americans, the administration needs to end illegal immigration.

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