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12E.4.5 Inside a garment shop

View inside a garment shop, located in a downtown loft building that was in violation of health and safety codes. The shop is now in compliance with health regulations, according to the Department of Health Services. Photograph dated April 26, 1977.
Photographic Print
Inside a garment shop. Photograph. 1977. Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles Herald Examiner Photo Collection.
This statement comes from a labor activist who grew up working in the garment industry in Bangladesh. What was her experience as a child laborer? Was she protected by labor laws? Because of her labor organizing in Bangladesh she faced threats of violence from companies that did not want her to unionize her fellow laborers. She was able to move to the United States to escape the danger, but she clearly did not stop working for labor rights. In this testimony she gives before the US Congress, what labor violations does she list? What could a labor union do to help prevent these labor violations? What appears to be beyond the control or influence of a union?
What happens in garment factories abroad is very likely connected to the clothes we wear, as only 2 percent of the clothing sold here in the United States is manufactured within the US. This has increasingly been the case since the 1990s, when trade deals among global partners made it much less expensive for US companies to employ people in developing countries to manufacture clothing, where wages are many times lower than in the United States, and where safety and health laws do not always exist.