Garment Survey Uncovers Violations

Under the Targeted Industries Partnership Program (TIPP), DIR and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released results of a recent survey of basic labor law compliance within the California garment manufacturing industry. The random survey indicated widespread violations of law relating to employment in the sewing shops, although the results showed improvement from an earlier survey.

During February and March the Divisions of Labor Standards Enforcement and Occupational Safety and Health, along with DOL, conducted a random survey of garment manufacturers who had been inspected during TIPP sweeps. The survey showed a 50 percent violation rate on minimum wage requirements, and a 68 percent noncompliance rate for overtime requirements. A significant number of firms surveyed also had serious safety and health violations.

These figures, nonetheless, compare favorably with a similar survey conducted in 1992 before TIPP's inception. That survey found the level of minimum wage and overtime violations to be approximately 80 percent.

In announcing the survey results, Labor Commissioner Victoria Bradshaw noted that the decreasing rate of violations was a result of coordinated, multi-agency enforcement efforts. But, she added, labor enforcement alone will not stem abuses in the garment industry. Bradshaw attributed a portion of the abuses to lack of federal immigration enforcement, which provides a readily available and cheap labor force of workers who are afraid to report any abuses for fear of deportation. This supply of labor gives incentive for abuses and no impetus for employers to comply with minimum labor standards, she said.

The survey found an average of 4.17 violations per employer. Overall, 79.7 percent of surveyed employers had violations of federal labor requirements, and 76.8 percent were in violation of state labor standards. The average wages owed to employees for the preceding 90 days was $218.84, or an estimated $875.36 on an annualized basis.

Surveyed employer violations were:

For additional information please call TIPP at (415) 703-4750-or write TIPP, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, P.O. Box 420603, San Francisco, CA 94142-0603.