El Monte Sweatshop

El Monte Sweatshop

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Description
These negatives illustrate the inhumane working and living conditions of people that worked in sweatshops. 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.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
photograph
negative
Date Made
1990 -1999
Physical Description
plastic; gelatin (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 3.5 cm; 1 3/8 in
ID Number
1997.0279.15.6.8
catalog number
1997.0279.15.6.8
accession number
1997.0279
Credit Line
U.S. Department of Labor
See more items in
Work and Industry: Manufacturing
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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