IR # 97-62
Tuesday, December 23, 1997

Rick Rice
Dean Fryer
(415) 972-8835


SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Department of Industrial Relations is pleased to announce that it has donated over $165,000 in new clothing, made by those who worked for underground garment manufacturers, to non-profit charitable organizations for holiday distribution to thousands of needy families in California.

"The hard work by employees of the Department of Industrial Relations, coupled with the meticulous efforts of many California garment workers, is resulting in multiple benefits," said Acting Director John C. Duncan. "Not only does this help many individuals and families who lack some of life's necessities," he said, "but it occurs at the expense of underground employers who undermine this vital California industry."

The clothing, primarily children's and ladies' garments, came to the Department as a result of inspections of underground sweatshops, primarily in the Los Angeles area, by employees of the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, under the direction of Labor Commissioner Jose Millan.

Recipients of approximately $75,000 worth of clothing are non-profit organizations who will distribute them to needy families in the Bay Area. Those organizations include, the Southeast Asian Community Center, the H. O. Mutual Assistance Association of San Francisco, the Vietnamese National Police Force Mutual Association, the Au Co Vietnamese Language School, the Association of Former Vietnamese Political Prisoners of Northern California, the Chinese Newcomers Service Center, the Vietnamese American Council, and the Chinese Hospital.

"Whenever the Labor Commissioner finds an illegally unregistered shop violating state labor codes, the law allows confiscation of the merchandise, so that it is taken out of commerce," Duncan said. The confiscation law is intended to deter those shops which seek to undercut their legitimate competition by avoiding their obligations to pay taxes, cover their employees for workers' compensation insurance or even pay the minimum wage. The merchandise cannot be resold, but must either be donated for noncommercial use, or destroyed.

"Destruction of these garments would strike at the very chord of what has always set California and the United States apart from other economies," Duncan said. "And that is the understanding that quality workmanship and fair competition will result in fair market share for products. "

"Anyone who receives one of these items of apparel should wear it proudly," said Labor Commissioner Millan. "Wear it knowing that by doing so, you are helping to erase the efforts of those who attempt to undermine this valuable California industry and the jobs that it provides."

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