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Subject is exactly garment industry

Editorial: "What to do about 'Sweatshop'" - Unsigned - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

What Herald Examiner staff writer Merle Linda Wolin's "Sweatshop" expose has revealed (aside from sometimes inexcusable working conditions in the Los Angeles garment industry and the seeming governmental impotence in improving them) is one incontestable fact: Just as it took an awful lot of people to get the garment industry into the state of decay it is in, it is going to take an awful lot of people to get it out of trouble. Cleaning up our sweatshops will require that everyone - citizen groups, government agencies, and espeically the industry itself - pitch in as a team and help. 

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner  1981-02-08

XVI-"What it will take to 'outlaw slavery'" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald Examiner

Get a pencil and write it down:  Without national legislations, there is little hope of cleaning up the California garment industry. Remember it and repeat it often.  Few will argue with this conclusion. Not Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. - "it can't go on, this exploitation of the working poor. These people are working and contributing to the wealth of California, and their voice is not being heard.  And since we can't seem to get at the heart of the problem in California's garment industry, a more comprehensive national approach must be taken."  Not state Labor Commissioner James QUillin - "What we need is recognition at the federal level that the (U.S.) garment industry is a special case. We must develop federal legislation that would require close regulation and hold manufacturers accountable."  Not state Sen. Joseph Montoya, D-San Gabriel Valley, the lawmaker who has sponsored the two most successful pieces of legislation affecting the industry since he took office in 1972 - "I would be willing to pursue the idea of federal legislation - it will serve everyone."  

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner  1981-02-01

XV-"Brown: 'It's wrong for a civilized society...'" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald Examiner

From the beginning of the conversation, it was clear that Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. knew little about the machinations of the state's $3.5 billion garment industry. But he seemed eager to learn.  "What's going on in this industry?" he asked at the beginning of the interview. "Do the laws work to protect the workers? Is everyone making minimum wage? Who is responsibile for the violations?"  I told him my story about rampant labor and health code abuses.  He seemed slightly incredulous.  Could this still be going on in California?  And then he appeared upset to hear that a bill recently signed into law would not solve the problem.  "Why couldn't my people get manufacturers held jointly liable with contractors for all the violations?" he asked indignantly. Standing in the living room of his sparsely furnished home in Laurel Canyon, Brown reached for the telephone.  Within moments, Don Vial, the director of California's Department of Industrial Regulations, and a member of Brown's governing Cabinet, was on the speakerphone.  Now it was a three-way conversation. 

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner  1981-01-30

XIV-"Bradley: 'I wouldn't want to speculate...'" -Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

As far as Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley is concerned, the violations in the city's garment industry are nothing to get excited about - a belief his critics charge is part of the problem.  "The mayor's office does virtually nothing to enforce the laws 0that apply to the garment industry)," said state Sen Joseph B Montoya, D-San Gabriel Valley, the legislator best known in Sacra-mento for his efforts to legally protect the garment worker.  "He showed interest only where there was a media event.  Why? There's a lot of money involved, a lot of contributions. You don't want to hamper your political campaign fund,  That's what it boils down to."   "It's kind of lonely out here," said state Labor Commissioner James Quillin who, as head of California's Concentrated Enforcement Program, tries to curb abuses in the garment industry. "The (city) Fire Department and the (city)  Building and Safety Department ought to be out here... but Bradley will talk about his reluctance to take any steps that might be construed as punitive agaist the industry. He'll say it is such an economic factor in the city."   Surprisingly, even manufactur-ers complain about the mayor, citing his reluctance to impose requirements on contractors beyond a $21 business tax and registration permit.  "I asked Mayor Bradley if there would be something these people (garment contractors) could read in five languages that would explain what their obligations are as employers," said Bernie Brown, the spokesman for California's Coalition of Apparel Industries,  the most powerful manufacturers' lobby in the state. "I never heard from him.  No one has the answer yet."  

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner  1981-01-29

City Slave Girls: What a "Little Hell" Physician Has to Say on the Future of the Factory and Store Drudges

A Division street physician whose practice for the last twenty years has been largely among the residents of the factory disctrict in the vicinity of "Little Hell" has this to say on the future of the factory girl:

Chicago Times  1888-08-24

City Slave Girls: Thanks "The TImes"

The Trades and Labor assembly at its meeting yesterday indorsed the course of The Times in its crusade in behalf of the white slaves of Chicago.  A vote of thanks prevailed unanimously, with the exeption of three assembly delegates printers connected with the other papers.  The debate upon the resolutions offered lasted over an hour, the advocates of the indorsement of THE TIMES's course giving in detail the arguments for their adoption.  Their testimony corroborated the truth of the statements taht have been made in the course of the investigations.  

Chicago Times  1888-08-20

XIX-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

On the southwest corner of Washington boulevard and Union street towers a spacious brick building, onthe third floor of which Henry W. King & Co manufacture much ofthe clothing that supplies the country trade.  The place is far from uninviting.  Clean halls and well-swept stairs croclaim the faithful service of a janitor, and the girl who has worked in "other shops" blesses the man at the rope every time she rides in the neat, mirror-lined elevator.  

Chicago Times  1888-08-17

XVII-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

In all this wide, weary, work-a-day world there is not a better, brighter, nobler girl than the one who stitches, lines, binds, and vamps your slippers and shoes.  She is a heroine if there ever was one outside of a civil or religious war.  She knows nothing of self-love, nothing of fear, and nothing of her own just rights.  Her life is made up of years of toil, months of privation, and weeks of struggling and striving to keep up with the rushing throng ravenous for her bread and envious of her miserable position.  She works from dawn almost to dusk, carrying every dollar of her earnings to some wretched home in which abide parents, brothers, and sisters often, too, relatives having absolutely no claim on her, none of whom lover her and none of whom show by word, ast, or deed that her generosity, goodness, and real nobility of soul is appreciated.

Chicago Times  1888-08-15

XVI-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

One of the white slaves of Chicago stood in the prisoner's dock at the armory police court yesterday moaning piteously.  She was young and her face was pretty.  The big policeman who stood at her side said he had arristed her for soliciting men upon the street.  She was booked as Kitty Kelly.  The frail, unfortunate girl brushed away her tears and told a story that went straight to the heart of every man in the crowded court room. She was a white slave and might have worn away her frail life sewing that her character should remain pure and unsullied, but the grinning skeleton of starvation haunter her day and night, and in desperation she sold herself to the tempter.  She was pale and thin and fierce hunger had left marks upon her young face.  "Oh judge I never did such a thing before! I never did it before! For God's sake have pity on me." and she wrung her hands in agony and sobbed convulsively.  "Nonsense," said the justice, trying to be stern. "You all say that."  "My baby! my baby! Oh what will become of her? For mercy's sake don't fine me! I have no money, not a cent.  Oh have mercy. I never was out before, surely I never was."  The big justice looked inquiringly at the big officer and the big officer said with a touch of emotion in his voice, "I never saw her before, your honor."  "Will you promise to keep off the street?" "I can't, no, I can't promise you that.  God knows I would if I could. But when I see my baby starving and there is no other way to find food for her, what else can I do?" and the wretched woman sobbed as if her heart was breaking.  The justice looked stern. Oh, sir," she sobbed, "If you only knew the misery and sorrow, the despair and degredation to which I have been humiliated, you might pity me.  I was young when I was married.  For awhile I was so happy. Then my husband sickened and died.  That was but little more than a year ago.  Soon after my baby was born.  I had no friend and no money. I was alone in this great city and no one to help me or even to give me a bit of advice. Vainly I sought for work.  I could not go into service and take my baby with me, and I could not bear the thought of parting from it.  At last I found employment in a factory.  There I made overalls and toled from morning until night, week in and week out.  But work as hard as I could, I could only earn $4 a week.  Baby took sick and I had to pay for a doctor and medicine, and it cost more than I could make."  

Chicago Times  1888-08-14

XV-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

Saturday the TIMES reporter and inspector Rodgers of the health department visited more than a score of "slop-shops."  If "Little Hell" is on the North side, certianly "Little Warsaw" is on the West, and they must be labled to be readily distinguished.  As a matter of fact the latter locality is practically labeled, as the largest building in the region is the Kosclusko school, named in honor of the patriot who made Freedom shriek.  If Thaddeus' ghost were to be transported blindfolded from the heroes' hereafter back to earth and landed at the corner of Milwaukee avenue and West Division street it would feel perfectly at home.  It would find the descendents of its fleshly prototype and his companions true knights as becomes their noble heritage - "knights of the goose."  

Chicago Times  1888-08-13

XIV-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

The birthright of an American girl may be a glorious attribute on the deck of a trans-atlantic steamship or the floor of a London ball-room, but it is not worth the flop of a brass farthing in the cloak factories of Chicago.  It was high noon by the Jesuite college clock when I got to the rear of 230 West Twelfth street, where David Kafasick has his shop.  Nobody in but an old man.  His face is seamed with wrinkles: he has a big nose the color and texture of a mushroom: his head and half his face is covered with hair of chinchilla shades: his back is humped at the shoulders and his clothes are fithy and worn.  I ask for work and am told that no hands are needed.  He has a pocket that hangs across his waist and into which he puts rags, pieces of thread, hooks and eyes, pins, buttons, and the empty spools that he on the floor about the vacant machine-chairs.  I watch the silent old man as he drags his loos slippers across the floor, and behold I have the key to wealth! But it doesn't profit me worth a copper.  So I survey the premises.  

Chicago Times  1888-08-12

XIII-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

"I can show you some clothing factories by the side of which those heretofore described by THE TIMES will appear as places.  If you will accompany me along South Canal, Clinton, and Jefferson streets, around Twelfth Street, you will see things that will give you an insight into the way our clothing dealers get rich and the shop-hands are compelled to be satisfied with wages that constitute less than 10 per cent of what the purchaser pays for the article."  The man who spoke these words had come to the TIMES office and offered his service in the disclosures of slave-driving in this city.  This voluntary guide was a Jew named Schlesinger.  Having worked in tailor-shops for a few years he was in a position to point out not only the causes of the prevailling misery in this branch of industry but by personal acquaintance could locate the shops in the vicinity which he considered the worst.  He confined himself to the cloak factories, and took a reporter through a dozen shops, introducing him as an operator from New York who was looking for work.  He said this ruse was necessary as otherwise the factory lords would not allow his companians inside their shops.  

Chicago Times  1888-08-11

XI-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

It was 7 a.m. by all the whistles in "Little Hell" when I reached that section of the city in search of an opening in a slop-shop.  The streets were crowded with shop hands hurrying to their day's work - men and boys with pipes in their mouths carrying dinner pails or lunch baskets; little girls in groups of two and three in beggarly rags; young women and old women, some of them white-haired and stooped with age, wearing shawls about their heads and shoulders and the meanest apologies for shoes.  Many girls were bare-headed and some went through the streets in old skirts and dilapidated waists that had neither collar nor sleeves.   At the corner of Elm and Wesson streets is an immense tailor shop into which the girls fairly swarmed, some going into the main and some into the rear building. Both buildings have three stories, each containing a shop under a different "boss." I followed the crowd through both buildings beginning in the basement and going up and up and up the narrow, dirty covered stairs, stopping on each floor to see the "boss" and apply for work.  No success.  The vest shops were full and so were the trousers shops.  In the jacket shop there was room for experienced hands only at the munificent salary of $3 a week.  The garments were cut and the sewer had the entire making.  

Chicago Times  1888-08-09

X-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

For dismal surroundings, economy of comforts, and heartless treatment, to the Boston store belongs the palm.  I did not work in that establishment although I tried very hard to do so.  I was in the store at 8 o'clock on Friday morning as arranged with Mr. Hillman, who had partially promised to hire me.  "One of the girls in the hoisery department," he had said "is sick, and if she doesn't come back Friday morning I will try you."  I could not find the gentleman, although I hunted the main floor and the floors above and below.  My plan of fluctuation was to take the elevator up one story and walk down, and then ride up two and walk down the third flight, in that way I took in the entire store and a great part of the employees.  I began at the bottom and spent a full hour in the basement, where I saw so much and suffered so much that the upper floors had no surprised for me.  In the first place the atmosphere was almost unendurable.   Hot! It must have been 100 degrees above! Out in the open air not a breeze was stirring and the heat was sizzling.  Down where I was I could not see a single opening to admit the air, firey as it was, excepting the open door at the extreme south-east corner of the floor, leading up a short flight of steps to the sidewalk.  

Chicago Times  1888-08-08

IX-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

"When we're late and get locked out we go to the dago shop.  Were you ever in a dago's." "No." "Well, you can always tell them by the 'Ladies Entrance.' Some of them are real nice, with beautiful carpets and lace curtains and mirrors on the wall.  There's a place over on Madisan street where you can get crackers and pop for a nickle.  Some of the girls go down-town and shop, but when it rains the police lets us wait in the tunnel." "How long," I asked."Till 9 o'clock. You have to be here at 7:30 o'clock, and if you're late the door is locked and you can't get in till 9."  The above conversation took place in the Dearborn Feather Duster company's place at 50 Canal street, where I applied for work Saturday morning.  The building is in a substantial brick and extends back to the river. The factory is on the third floor and reached by two long flights of stairs that needed sweeping and repairing.  I suppose the surroundings were suitable for the business carried on, but they were far from comfortable and wholly uncharming.  

Chicago Times  1888-08-07

V-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

Two Weeks ago, Ref. Mr. Goss Preached a sermon relative to the morals and progress of the working woman. Among other things he referred to a "good Jew" who having the comfort of the hundred odd girls in his cloak factory at heart, "provided every day for 1 cent a substantial lunch."  I sent the reverend gnetlemen a note, inclosing a stamp for the address of the "Good Jew" and in reply came the name of H. Zimmerman, 255 Monroe street.  On went poverty's respectable rags, and off I posted for shop-work and a penny spread. The elevator carried me to the top of the building, where every week thousands of jackets, sacques, circulars, dolmans, and cloaks are turned out to supply the country trade of the northwest.  Here in a crowded room, with low ceiling and dingy walls, poorly ventilated and insufficiently lighted, sit between eighty and 150 young girls surrounded from Monday morning until Saturday noon by the ceaseless clatter of the sewing machines in an atmosphere so thick that it can be cut with a knife. 

Chicago Times  1888-08-03

IV-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

On Thursday morning when I started to renew my factory life I discovered after getting on a South-side car that I did not have a cent in my pocket.  In putting on my shop-girl disguise I had left my purse at home.  When the conductor asked for the fare I had none to give him.  It was very hot, the clouds threatened rain, and the shop was at so greata distance that I did not feel as if I could walk.  I concluded to throw myself on the generosity of the conductor and told him I had forgotten my purse.  He looked ugly and told me to get off.  Just as he placed his whistle to his lips to signal the gripman to stop a distinguished, well-dressed man paid my fare. I thanked him for his courtesy and told him if he would give me his card I would send him the money he had so kindly paid.  He smiled and said: "A mere bagatelle, miss, and not worth mentioning."  At Eighteenth street I left the car to go to a vestmaker's place at 2153 Archer avenue.  I was crossing the three points where State and Nineteenth streets intersect when who should come abreast but my benefactor.  Instead of raising his hat he jauntily cocked his left eye and came so close to me that the sleeve of my "never-rip" jersey was pressed against the waist-line of his light grey suit."   "Aha, here we are again!"  Although I distinctly heard every word of his remark, I said, "I beg your pardon" with as much of the Newport chill as I could affect.   "Come, come now," he said, with increased gayety, moving his waistband still closer to my jersey. "Oh, you are the gentleman to whom I am indebted for car-fare.  You want your money, I suppose; if you will give me your card I will write you an order."   "Do you work in this neighborhood?"  "No sir"  "Where then?"  "No place" "Where are you going?"  "For work."  "What kind?"  "Any kind.  May I have your card? I am in something of a hurry." "Mayant I have yours?" He asked "Certainly, I haven't my case, but if you will lend me a pencil I will write you one."   "With pleasure, my dear."  "You are mistaken, sir, that is not my name."  "Ha ha ha! I see you are a little mischevous, but for all that you are my dear," producing three inches of Faber. "A card, please"  "Bless me, I had forgotten," and the natty sack-coat was ransacked for a suitable card. Ah, here, this will do, I hope, in lieu of something more conventional," carefully placing on my sewing-box a small card with the address down.  I reversed the pasteboard and read on the back: Dr. Charles Gilman Smith Office Hours ----------- Residence ------------   "Dr. Smith! I know him quite well."  "Oh you do, eh?" In a tone that left no doubt that his stock in me had dropped.  I wrote:  Reporter. The Times.    And handed it to my companion, who read it with eyes that seemed to have been wired open.   

Chicago Times  1888-08-02

III-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

One of the chance acquaintances I made at the never-rip jersey factory worked three days for Julius Stein & Co., 122 Market street, received 63 cents for her labors about ten days after leaving. One-third of 63 cents is 21 2/5 cents.  That is the way Stein & CO solve the problem; but the question is one that capital, Christianity, and civilization are invited to analyze.    "Don't never go to Stein's" the little girl said, "It's an awful place."   On Saturday I tumbled out of bed at 6 AM and donned my factory clothes.  On the way down-town the street-car met with an eight-minute obstruction in the shape of a load of bricks, and when I reached the manufacturing establishment of Julius Stein & Co. it was 8:32 o'clock.  The elevator took me up one story and I was told to "get out."  I told the boy at the rope that I wished to go up to the work room.     "You're too late," he said. "Have to take the freight elevator down at the back of the store."   Down I walked as directed past long tables that towered with long cloaks, dolmans, ulsters, jackets, and short wraps; past two or three busy, unobserving clerks, past a pair of forbidding looking men who glared at me from under their black hats and blacker brows; past an earthen-grey stringy crash towel that waved at hast mast above a dirty wash-basin; past a tier of closets that emitted a stifling odor, and on down to the packing room.  I waited for a big, lusty packer to finish pummelling the mischevous little Swede who ran the elevator and was carried up to the top floor with a box of cloth.  When the car landed I found myself at the extreme end of a room 50 X 180 feet, in an inclosure of wire-fence, packing-boxes, and cutting-boards, beyong and between which I could see perhaps two-hundred persons, mostly women, bent over machines, and working only as slaves ever work.  The thundering [two unreadable words] of the machinery deadened every other [two undreadable words] even that made by the cutters as they ran their heavy shears through the [undreadable] and muslin trimmings.  

Chicago Times  1888-08-01

II-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

I did not realize the ignominious position of respectable poverty till I went to Ellinger's cloak factory, 262 Madison street, where labor is bondage, the laborer a slave, and flesh and blood cheaper than needles and thread.  Corporations are said to be without heart, but this concern is a commercial inquisition.  it puts its help on the plane of slavery and nothing but civil law prevents the use of the lash.  The factory is on the third floor of the large brick building at the east end of Madison street bridge on the south side of the street.  Elevator? Not much. An elevator is a luxury and luxuries have no place at Ellinger's You will be short of breath when you reach the top of the fourth flight, but in recovering, you have time to take in the surroundings - a great barn of a place with the single charm of good light.  There is plenty of vacant room but the women are huddled together, elbows touching along the line of the machines.  Beneath the west windows flows the river; at the south end of the room, not ten feet from the crowded table, is a tier of closets, and on hot days the combined odor of the two is shocking.  Nobody in his employ dare complain about smells, cold, head, work, wages, or rules.  But whoever heard of martyrs complaining? 

Chicago Times  1888-07-31

I-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily TImes

Tuesday, July 10, according to instructions from THE TIMES, I made up for the role of shop-girl and with a list of factories in one hand and gentle peace in the other sailed down State street under a brown braize veil as impenetrable as an iron mask, I applied at two feather factories and three corset shopws, but aside from the exercise up and down several flights of stairs got nothing.  The feather people did not need any help and the corset folks had not yet started on the winter trade.  I was treated with civility, however, and given permission to "drop in in a week or so."  The fifth place on my list was the "Western Lace Manufacturing Co.," 218 State street.  Ascending one flight of stairs I stopped to take off my veil and adjust my eyes to the low light.  That done I looked about and finding a door marked "Office of the Western Lace Manufacturing Co." with "Come In" On the glass I complied.  A young girl followed and leaving her to close the door, I fell into a chair, the only one about, and proceeded to perspire and scrutinize the place.  The office was not uninviting.  The floor had cheap carpet, the ceiling was high and the room well ventilated and admirably lighted.  On a long table, that served as a sort of fortification for the private office of the company, were the samples - "antique crocheted goods" - as they are listed, in various shades of white.  All were of different pattern and unvarying ugliness.  There were round tidies and oblong tidies, square mats for a bureau and smaller ones of oval and circular design, intended for a lamp or cusion.  Behind the table, secheting between a writing stand and a desk, was a young man of 30 or so, of the blonde type, with a stationary scowl between his eyebrows and an otherwise pleasing manner.  That is, I thought the manner pleasing until I began to get acquainted with it and then my opinion changed.  After a lapse of five minutes or so, the fair-haired gentleman turned to the young girl with a deeping of the scowl and a must unalluring "Well?" 

Chicago Times  1888-07-30

XIII-"Who are the players? What are the problems?" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

What stands in the way of cleaning up California's rapidly growing $3.5 billion garment industry, centered in Los Angeles and officially recognized as "the dirtiest in the state"? After an intensive eight-month investigation, which included a month's undercover work posing as an illegal garment worker, the Herald Examiner discovered that the garment industry's major problems revolve around the manufacturers, not the contractors. These people, the manufacturers, control the purse strings of the industry yet are not held legally accountable for the health and labor conditions under which their garments are made. 

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner  1981-01-28

XII-"The retailer's side of the story" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

Talk to major retailers in Los Angeles, the impeccably dressed corporate executives who reap grand profits from selling high fashion and style, and they will completely disavow the problems of the garment industry.  But talk to labor commission officials or even spokesmen from various contractors' or manufacturers associations, and they will tell you that until big retailers agree to accept responsibility for their part in perpetuating flagrant labor and health code violations, the industry will continue to be "the dirtiest in the state."  

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner  1981-01-27

XI-"It’s Another Mike Wallace Trick!" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

If Linwood Melton was a good example of a manufacturer insinuated from the exploitation of the industry, Norman Blomberg, the president of Sauci Inc., an $8 million budget-blouse company, was someone who seemed to know the story. "So it's a horrifying business. What's new?" Blomberg said when I told him the conditions under which I worked on his rose-and-cream-colored short-sleeved blouse at Felix Mendoza's shop. He seemed sure of himself, a man with arough exterior.

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner  1981-01-26

IX-"The fading of Felix Mendoza's dream" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

Felix Mendoza is the first to admit that he should go out of business. No excuses. No bitterness. He says there is hardly a chance to make a go of it as a garment contractor in Los Angeles.  You remember Mendoza. He was the slightly built man who thought I was another poor illegal and gave me a job in his small and dank sewing factory near Central Los Angeles.  His shop was filthy, nightmarish.  And for a full week's work, I earned a pitiful $38.74

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner  1981-01-23

VIII-"The work is 'killing' Martha and Oscar" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

The manufacturers' response to knowing I worked on their garments seemed miled to the way Oscar and Martha Herrera greeted the news that I was a journalist, not a Brazillian garment worker.  The first time I entered the shop as a newspaper reporter, one sunny Tuesday afternoon, the Herrera's responded to me cooly but politely.  Oscar stood over the mangle, swiftly arranging the blue trousers on the roller before he lowered the steaming top.  As I approached, he looked up with a puzzled expression on his face.  Some of the other workers that had befriended me when I worked in the shop came forward, like Sergio from Guatemala.  He recognized me immediately and smiled. He knew something was up.  

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner  1981-01-22

VII-"'I"m not Joan of Arc. I'm a garment manufacturer.'" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

To hear wealthy dress manufacturers Richard Freedman and Lowell Meyer talk, you would think that single-handedly they overcame the recession and every other obstacle in a competitive business, to put their firm on top.  Listening to smooth-talking women's sportswear manufacturer Warren Handler talk, you would think that all it took for him to succeed was good design and lots of hard work.  And I might have believed them, all of them - had I not been demeaned and exploited as a worker in one of their contractor's unhealthful shops.  Or had I not know about the manufacturers' sanctioned edge over everyone else in the Los Angeles germent industry.  

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner  1981-01-21

VI-"Merlina faces the labor commissioner - and wins" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

The offices of the state labor commissioner, on the fifth floor at 107 S. Broadway, are painted hospital green and off white, a no-nonsense kind of place.  In the large, rectangular shaped entry room, clerks stand behind an old, built-in wooden counter that divides the space into offices and a waiting room.  That day, nearly everyone in the waiting room was either black or spoke Spanish. I never would have complained to the Labor Commission had I not know that what happened to me at Ernst Strauss Inc. happens to garment workers every day. Labor Department officials believe that many employers regularly refuse to pay but because the workers are largely undocumented - an estimated 90 percent of them in Los Angeles are here without papers- they get away with it.  

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner  1981-01-20

IV-"Homework: The Alien’s Secret Support System" Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

No one seemed to know how much garment industry homework is done in Los Angeles.  And I had no idea how work illegally filters down to homes from the contractors or manufacturers.  So at the end of May, I decided to find out on the streets.  I had a few preconcieved notions about homework.  In the Mendoza shop where I worked in early May, I witnessed trusted sewing machine operators carry out unfinished blouses stuffed in large, green plastic garbage bags, presumably to be finished later at home.  For nine days, from 8 AM to 5 PM, I walked the residential streets of the city, from Central Los Angeles to Sunland in the north, to Wilmington, the "Heart of the Harbor," to El Monte on the east.  I chose streets where it seemed working-class and poor people lived; man neighborhoods were largely Spanish-speaking.

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner  1981-01-18