LA’s Sweatshops & the Fight for Garment Workers – EcoJustice Radio

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Los Angeles is the nation’s garment production capital and the city’s second largest manufacturing sector, yet workers face injustice, usually associated with the developing world, right here in one of the largest cities in the United States. Jessica Aldridge interviews Mar Martinez from the Garment Worker Center a worker rights organization leading an anti-sweatshop movement to secure social and economic justice for tens of thousands of Los Angeles garment workers.

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garment workers, Los Angeles

Garment industry abuses don’t just happen in faraway lands—workers in Los Angeles face rough conditions too. Photo by Charles Davis in Take Part.

Sweatshops: LA’s Dirty Secret & the Fight for Garment Workers

When we fight for environmental standards and rights, we must always take into consideration the health, safety, security, and equity of people, our brothers and sisters. It is impossible to disconnect social justice from environmental justice. As we have discussed in previous shows, Fast fashion sews a web of questionable environmental and human rights issues.

The world consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year and Americans generates 82 pounds of textile waste while we are continuously bombarded by cheaply sold clothes and marketing campaign to buy more.

In that same vein, Los Angeles is the nation’s garment production capital and the city’s second largest manufacturing sector, yet workers face injustice, usually associated with the developing world, right here in one of the largest cities in the United States.

Unbeknownst to most, sweatshops are a reality in Los Angeles, California and are directly tied to some of the most notable and loved brands. However, accountability and human rights are not always being addressed by these brands and the manufacturers they use.

So where lies our responsibility as consumers, as concerned citizens, even as environmentalists?

How are sweatshops and labor practices intrinsically tied to environmental issues? Remember there is no disconnect between social and environmental justice.

Our speaker today is from the Garment Worker Center a worker rights organization leading an anti-sweatshop movement to secure social and economic justice for tens of thousands of Los Angeles garment workers.

Bio: With two garment workers as parents, Mar Martinez witnessed first-hand the harm that the garment industry creates due to low wages and unsafe working conditions. As Organizing Coordinator and Wage Theft Clinic Coordinator, Mar has helped recover over $900K in stolen wages for garment workers and fight for greater brand accountability in the garment industry in Los Angeles.

Garment Worker Center is a worker rights organization leading an anti-sweatshop movement to improve conditions for tens of thousands of Los Angeles garment workers. Through direct organizing, GWC develops leaders who demand enforcement of strong labor laws and accountability from factory owners, manufacturers, and fashion brands. We center immigrant workers, women of color, and their families who are impacted by exploitation in the fashion industry.

STORY: The Steep Environmental and Social Costs of the Fashion Industry

Website: http://garmentworkercenter.org/

Interview by Jessica Aldridge from SoCal 350 and Adventures in Waste.
Engineer: Blake Lampkin
Executive Producer: Jack Eidt
Show Created by Mark and JP Morris
Music: Javier Kadry
Episode 31

Updated 1 July 2019

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About Jack Eidt

Novelist, urban theorist, and environmental journalist, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion -- Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Planners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow him on Twitter @WilderUtopia and @JackEidt