If the saying “every rose has its thorns” holds true, then the thorn of the fashion industry would be all the unscrupulous characters trying to make a quick buck on the backs of others. According to the Huffington Post, the U.S Department of Labor has “found widespread ‘sweatshop-like’ labor violations in downtown LA’s fashion district.” An unannounced sweep of a single factory found ten garment contractors to be in violation of labors laws, such as paying less than minimum wage, not paying overtime or falsifying or failing to maintain records. The workers on average were paid less than $6.50 per hour, which is far less than California’s $8 per hour minimum wage and the federal government’s $7.25. Also, they were not compensated for the overtime hours worked.
The contracts were producing garments for 30 retailers nationwide, which included top retailers such as Urban Outfitters, Aldo, Forever 21, Burlington Coat Factory, Home Shopping Network, TJ Maxx and Marshall‘.
According to Kim Chi Bui, district director for the Labor Department Wage and Hour Division in LA, contractors often blame manufacturers for not paying enough to adequately pay sewers, and manufacturers blame retailers for not paying enough to pay adequately contractors.” Everyone plays the blame game and no one accepts any real sense of responsibility. Fortunately, this time, the ten garment contracts were made to accept a level of accountability. The department of labor was able to recover $326,200 in back wages for 185 employees.
StyleBlazers, do you believe retailers should be more proactive in insuring their manufacturers obey labor laws?