IR # 97-57
Wednesday, November 26, 1997

Rick Rice
Dean Fryer
(415) 972-8835

Personal Assets of El Monte Slavery Perpetrators Produce More Back Wages For Employees

SAN FRANCISCO -- John Duncan, Acting Director of the California Department of Industrial Relations today announced that the former employees of SK Fashion are receiving an additional $202,887 in back wages.

"This money is in addition to the $1,018,021 which we distributed after our discovery of this infamous scheme in 1995, and represents the balance of proceeds from the auction of the perpetrators' personal property -- vehicles and jewelry found at the location -- and settlement amounts from garment manufacturers who had contracted with SK Fashion," Duncan said.

Ringleaders of the El Monte SK Fashion slavery/immigrant smuggling operation, whose personal assets were auctioned off, are currently serving time in federal prison as a result of the August 2, 1995 enforcement effort led by the California Labor Commissioner.

That well publicized action led to freedom for 72 Thai nationals who had been held in involuntary servitude, some for up to seven years while being forced to manufacture garments in "repayment" for their transportation to the U.S.

California Labor Commissioner, Jose Millan, who, as an Assistant Labor Commissioner at that time, assisted in coordinating the enforcement action said "Every penny we can produce from this case is going toward wages owed the former employees of SK Fashion who were denied their rights under California law."

The 109 former employees of SK Fashions, which includes those discovered in El Monte and employees at two other locations in Los Angeles County, will share in the $202,887. The amount each employee receives was calculated by determining the actual amount owed to each employee as a percentage of the total amount owed to all employees, based on the length of time each was employed at SK Fashion. Each employee then receives a commensurate percentage of the amount available for disbursement.

On March 8, 1996, the Director of the Department of Industrial Relations and the Labor Commissioner distributed a total of $1,085,521 in back wages owed the 109 employees. This money was obtained from domestic and foreign currency confiscated at the El Monte compound and the interest that accrued on that money, as well as settlement proceeds from garment manufacturers who had contracted with the El Monte operation.

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