How Coronavirus has impacted L.A. Garment Workers, and How You Can Help

By Fashion Revolution

4 years ago

By Irene San Segundo

It is estimated that less than 2% of the garment workers in the world make a living wage, and you don´t have to go as far as Bangladesh, China, or Vietnam to witness this reality. It is happening right here, right now. As I learned after speaking with the Garment Workers Center in Los Angeles, the average salary of an L.A. garment worker is $6 an hour, when the minimum wage in the United States is now $15.

“Whenever we complain about this situation the managers of the factories just close and disappear. Then, they reopen with a different name,” explains P.L., a garment worker from México that has been working in the L.A. textile industry for over 20 years and still has no salary, no benefits, and no security at all. On a good week, she makes $250, on an average one she makes $150, working Monday to Saturday.

“Our goal is just to have a fair salary and a law that protects us.”

After the coronavirus spread in California, most factories including the one where she worked at stopped operations, and her husband, who worked in the restaurant industry lost his job too. “We haven´t worked since March 15th, and we haven´t been paid since then,” she explains over the phone. “The boss didn´t have time to complete the last shipment when the mayor announced everything had to close he shut it down and still owes us the last week of work.”

Sadly this situation is very common among the L.A. textile community and that is why the Garment Workers Center has started a campaign to raise funds to help the garment workers and their families get through this crisis. If you want to donate to their Emergency Relief Fund please go to this link.

“Garment workers in Los Angeles are facing difficult hardships during the Covid19 pandemic. Last week, our Organizers were able to make food deliveries to 15 garment families in need. This week our requests have tripled. In times like these, we must lean on each other to overcome the obstacles that we face,” says a statement from the Garment Workers Center.

Let´s not forget that before this health crisis the situation and working conditions of the textile industry in L.A. where already far from good or fair. “The worst part [of my job] I think is sitting down for more than 8 hours, sewing every day, 6 days a week with no break because we work per piece, not per hour and we need the money”, P.L. explains. “The factories don´t have A.C. or heat… We complain but the bosses don´t listen. There are mice, roaches and they don´t clean.”

She learned for the Garment Workers Center from a friend that used to work with her and says they have helped her know her rights and gain self-esteem. “The way we are treated at work makes you lose self-esteem,” she admits.

If you want to get involved, learn more about how this organization helps the textile workers in California or contribute to their Emergency Relief Fund you´ll find more information in the Workers Center website: