US: Garment workers thank student campaign for sweatshop settlement
A factory that makes jackets with university logos has agreed to pay $172,000 to eight former employees who alleged they were working in sweatshop conditions, the workers' attorneys said. J.H. Design Group Inc. denied the workers' allegations, which were raised in a federal lawsuit filed in November. Company officials said in a statement Wednesday that they agreed to settle to avoid a costly legal battle. The company, which employs up to 200 workers at a time in its downtown Los Angeles facility, said it supports workers' efforts to ensure good working conditions and "abhors the mistreatment of workers around the world." The former factory employees alleged that they worked 10- to 12-hour days, seven days a week, for less than minimum wage. They had to sew at home until midnight and on weekends to meet quotas if they wanted to keep their jobs, and they were subjected to verbal abuse that included racial slurs, said Julie Su, an attorney at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, which represented the eight Latino workers. Three of the workers were fired when they complained about the conditions and the others quit, Su said. The workers credited a nationwide campaign by college students who held petition drives, hunger strikes and sit-ins in the offices of university administrators for putting pressure on the garment industry. Some colleges adopted codes of conduct prohibiting them from doing business with companies with abusive labor practices. "We hope that our case helps to end the abuses in garment factories against workers," said Adolfo Sanchez, one of the workers who sued
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