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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
Make no mistake about the quality of the operation over at the union-organized Ernst Strauss Inc. The shop, maker of very expensive, fine-quality women's suits and coats, is considered the best in Los Angeles. Ask garment industry leaders, union officals, ask the owners themselves. "The pay is the highest in California - maybe the country," said one owner. "The workers are so loyal you couldn't beat them away. " said another. "It's a union shop," explained someone from the International Ladie's Garment Worker's Union. "A 30-year member. Everything is done right." But "right in the undisputed best shop in town is a relative term. On June 12, a Thursday, I went to work as a sewing machine operator in Ernst Strauss factory. As before, I posed as a poor, illegal brazillian germent worker. I no speak English. Espanol, por favor.
Los Angeles Herald-Examiner 1981-01-19