USA - Government Steps Up Labor Enforcement at Local Garment Factories
Dated- 10 Aug , 2012 - USA
Federal and state labor officials announced a multiyear initiative to crack down on garment factories in Southern California that don’t pay minimum wage or overtime and don’t register their businesses.
The initiative was launched on Aug. 7, when 10 teams comprising 50 people from the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division inspected 10 garment factories that employed 199 workers in the heart of the Los Angeles garment district.
The result was $217,844 in citations for failure to carry workers’ compensation and failure to obtain a garment license, the state agency said. Audits will be conducted to determine whether workers were being paid minimum wage or overtime pay. The 10 garment factories, located at 830 S. Hill St., are Apple Style Inc., ID Fashion Inc., Dan Ji Collection, Inc., JandS Clothing Inc., Nagoya Inc., Galilee Fashion LLC, Ambos Inc., Joy Always, Sarri Fashion Inc., and CUI Sewing Inc.
“These joint investigations were conducted almost exactly 17 years to the day after garment workers were found working behind barbed wire and under armed guard in an El Monte sweatshop,” said California Labor Commissioner Julie Su, who was the lead attorney in that case. “Rooting out continued violations of basic wage protections for garment workers is a top priority for this administration.”
The U.S Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division said it will announce the results of its investigations at the end of this year but will keep up its inspections of garment contractors in Los Angeles and Orange counties for several years.
Over the past five years, the federal Wage and Hour Division offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and West Covina, Calif., have conducted more than 1,500 investigations of Southern California garment factories.
According to the division, 93 percent of those investigations uncovered violations, finding more than $11 million in back wages owed to approximately 11,000 workers.
Investigators found that garment workers typically are paid for each piece they sew or cut with pay sometimes as low as $6 per hour. The state minimum wage is $8, and the federal minimum wage is $7.25. Oftentimes, employees are working 10 to 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week, without overtime pay.
The U.S. Department of Labor “is consistently focusing on a variety of low-wage industries—such as car washes, restaurants, agriculture, janitorial and landscaping—where we have a lot of low-wage workers who may not be getting paid what they should be and maybe are not being paid legally or need some help in getting what they are owed,” said Deanne Amaden, a Department of Labor spokesperson.