New York – an industrial sewing machine that vibrates the mouldy corridor of this dilapidated building on Jerome street. On the steeper, rickety stairs, the obvious buzz was magnified. Opening any door in this four-story warehouse is reminiscent of dickens’s England.
But now women are not sewing with needlework, they are bending the singer mailo machine. The wires were attached to the pipes on the ceiling. A narrow passageway for the crowd; Fire escapes are blocked or non-existent. The heat was stifling and the work was long and tedious. Wages are barely enough to live on.
, according to people familiar with the millions of immigrants from poorer countries recently, minimum wage laws, and enforcement of health and safety standards as well as the growing industry, sweatshop explosive growth in recent years.
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Whether in the south Bronx this warehouse renovation, small garage for the car in northern New Jersey, Chinatown loft, or queens, apartment buildings, sweatshops in the expansion, the unions and government officials.
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It is estimated that as many as 3,000 sweatshops in the New York area employ 50,000 people. “It’s the fastest growing industry in New York,” said Franz Leichter.
ILGWU officials estimate that half of the clothes made in the New York area are made in sweatshops. Because about 85% of women and children’s fashion is made in the New York area, according to the garment manufacturers association, executive director of Kurt Barnard (Kurt Barnard), according to the American people wear a lot of, have been made into a sweatshop.
The building of the labor department’s sweatshop strike force in March drew national attention. On April 24th Raymond j. Donovan, the Labour minister, led a raid on a five-story Chinatown in New York. His team found $15,000 in illegal wages and three youths who violated the federal labor standards act. After the attack, Mr Donovan described working conditions as a “national disgrace” and vowed to continue enforcing Labour laws.
Dozens of years ago, sweatshops were thought to have been eliminated in the harsh legislation that followed the collapse of the triangle cotton socks company in 1911. In a factory fire in lower Manhattan, there were 146 people, mostly teenage girls. Shortly after the tragedy, a security council of political heavyweights was formed. Within a year, the expert group passed national legislation on factory hygiene standards, setting fire control measures (including fire drills) and banning women and children from working the night shift.
But the contracting system that has roots in sweatshops remains. In the contracting system, clothing is made in small shops that employ 20 to 30 workers or in individual homes. The system is unique to big city centers like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, and stands in stark contrast to the factory systems that took root in the south and Midwest.
The signing system can be complicated. The process starts with manufacturers or “wholesalers”. They design clothes and buy materials. Sometimes they cut down the material; Sometimes the material was sent to a cutting shop outside the city. The cut material was sent to the sewing workshop.
Recruiters are also wholesalers. They have showrooms in the center of the city, showing fashion samples to buyers at retail stores.
There are several middlemen between the wholesaler on seventh avenue and the workers at the clothing store. These include: the owner or manager of the sewing workshop, “contractor”; Truck drivers who ship the cutting material to the store and return the finished product to the seller; Sometimes it is a “broker” who ACTS as a supplier, distributor, business agent and even translator for a new contractor. In some cases, the contractor is a legitimate businessman, has a small shop, employs documented workers, pays more than the minimum wage, and meets health and safety regulations. Usually the workers in this shop are union.
In sweatshops, conditions are very different.
“I’m not sure what a good definition of a sweatshop is,” said Joseph Danahy, regional director of ILGWU. “Sweatshops are a state of mind… This is a place where human dignity degenerates.
Danahy cites the specific features of sweatshops: “people are paid under the federal minimum wage, without proper overtime, involving child labor, involving family work,” he said. “Taxes and deductions are deducted from people’s wages, not bigger than employers’ pockets, and sweatshops have health and safety problems.
Frederick Siems, ILGWU’s executive vice President, acknowledged that the same abuses occurred in some of the union stores, mainly in Chinatown. He accused federal and state labor departments of reducing the number of inspectors assigned to clothing.
“It is very difficult for government inspectors to come in,” he said. “They started out short, and budget cuts made things worse.”
Law enforcement has become increasingly difficult since the city’s financial crisis of 1975-76. According to the New York state department of labor labor standards department deputy director Hugh Dr. McDade (Hugh McDade) said, only 24 inspector peaked in 1976 reached 64, at a time when the department funding has decreased by 45%. Before the budget cuts, the department regularly patrolled and began its own investigations. Now, the number of layoffs is already full, only responding to complaints.
According to the labor department spokesman in Washington says the Reagan budget cuts, there will be 22 of ninety-eight inspectors from regional wage and hour division layoffs in New York in September.
In a two-year sweatshop survey conducted by senator Leichter, more than 40 shops were surveyed, and sweatshop average wages were no more than $15 an hour. That makes hourly wages below $2, well below the $3.35 minimum.
Large Numbers of small shops are almost impossible to check for labor and safety regulations. Most sweatshop contractors do not keep records. According to Mr. Danasi, the record is about the same as the actual work.
Sweat workers are usually new immigrants and many are illegal. An increasing number of aliens are being carved on the pedestal of the statue of liberty, resulting in a flood of non-technical and illegal Labour. Sweatshops tend to provide the only employment opportunity, especially for women without other means of support.
“Undocumented workers tend to talk, but there are a lot of legal workers exploited,” says Mr Siems.
He explained that many of them came from authoritarian governments, and the last place to ask for help was the government. Their fear of the U.S. government, especially immigration, helps keep the system secret, as well as labor and union officials who are helping them.
Contractors tend not to be better than their employees.