Production Notebook

Yue Jin Wu used this production notebook to record output and compute pay in New York City in 1995.
In the garment industry, workers are paid for the actual number of pieces they complete, regardless of how long it takes. Under federal and state law, however, employers are still required to pay the equivalent of the minimum wage. Manufacturers and some workers point out that piecework rewards those who work quickly and stay focused. However, the system can easily be abused. Despite toiling at breakneck speeds, sweatshop workers often earn substantially less than minimum wage.
On August 2, 1995, police arrested eight operators of the clandestine El Monte garment shop and freed seventy-two Thai nationals who had been working in a form of modern slavery. Workers, recruited in Thailand, were promised good pay and good working conditions. After signing an indenture agreement for $5,000 they were smuggled into the United States with fraudulent documents. The workers were paid about $1.60 an hour with sixteen-hour workdays in horrifying conditions. They were held against their will in a razor wire enclosed complex with an armed guard and were jammed into close living quarters. By 1999, eleven companies Mervyn's, Montgomery Ward, Tomato, Bum International, L.F. Sportswear, Millers Outpost, Balmara, Beniko, F-40 California, Ms. Tops, and Topson Downs, agreed to pay more than $3.7 million dollars to the 150 workers who labored in the El Monte sweatshop. As in most cases of sweatshop production, these companies contend that they did not knowingly contract with operators who were violating the law.
Currently not on view
Associated Place
Unlinked Place
Unlinked Place
overall: 5 1/4 in x 3 in x 1/2 in; 13.335 cm x 7.62 cm x 1.27 cm
overall: 5 3/8 in x 3 1/8 in x 1/2 in; 13.6525 cm x 7.9375 cm x 1.27 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Garment Industry Development Corporation
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanical and Civil Engineering
El Monte
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Add a comment about this object