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10/15 New York: AIN'T I A WOMAN?! Campaign to Fight Against Sweatshops Garment Factories!
Released 16 October 2005  By


National Mobilization Against SweatShops
P.O. Box 130293 - New York, NY 10013-0995
Tel: (718) 625-9091 Fax: (718) 625-8950
Against Garment Workers

Chinese Staff & Workers' Association
P.O. Box 130401 - New York, N.Y. 10013-0995
Tel: (212) 334-2333 Fax: (212) 334-1974

The 'Ain't I a Woman?!' campaign grew from a small group of garment workers holding DKNY accountable for sweatshop conditions to become a call for a new women's movement fighting for control over our time, health, respect and payment for caregiving work. DKNY workers have been joined by other women workers who also have tolerated abusive conditions for the sake of their families -- such as the workers of Liberty Apparel's factories.. Many women are inspired by the example of these workers who risked so much to fight to be treated with respect like human beings, and to have some say about their working conditions and time.

Our campaign has drawn in women workers from across the board who are experiencing longer hours, lower wages and worsening conditions. Whether we work in a corporate law firm or a garment factory, control over our time and our lives is slipping away.

A century after Sojourner Truth's struggles against racism and sexism, women workers are stepping up the fight against the most destructive form that modern-day racism and sexism has taken: economic segregation and the perception that crumbs are better than nothing. Refusing to be treated like slaves or second-class citizens, we are coming together to build upon Sojourner Truth's struggle and proclaiming Ain't I a Woman?!

The AIN'T I A WOMAN?! Campaign
Condemn Elaine Chao For Ignoring Labor Violations Against Garment Workers

In 2001, a group of Chinese garment workers filed a lawsuit against Street Beat Sportswear sweatshop bosses Al Papouchado and Michel Amar. Years later, the manufacturer were able to shirk responsibility for the illegal wages and working conditions practiced in its subcontracted factories, thanks to the Department of Anti-Labor.

Judge Leo Glasser, in a summary judgement decision, ruled six months ago that Street Beat had violated a voluntary compliance contract they signed with the Department of Labor (DOL) to 'monitor and ensure the contractors' compliance' with the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to this agreement, the notorious sweatshop manufacturer was required to make sure its contracted factories could pay at least the minimum wages and overtime to employees under the garment contracts.

The DOL's voluntary compliance contracts do nothing to uphold workers' rights. They only protect sweatshop bosses from DOL investigation. By ignoring Street Beat?s noncompliance, the DOL has essentially approved of the manufacturer?s violation.

Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao is promoting sweatshops in the U.S.!

Elaine Chao is known for being anti-labor, cutting job protections and health and safety standards for American workers. Her oversight of manufacturer violations is appalling. As Secretary of Labor, she has a responsibility to ensure that manufacturers do not violate the labor law, especially in light of cases such as Liberty Apparel, where the manufacturer is avoiding accountability for sweatshop conditions by dragging out the workers? lawsuit for more than 7 years. Her blatant disregard of these violations should be denounced.

The Ain?t I A Woman?! Campaign urges you to write letters to Secretary Chao to let her know we are disgusted with the way she has gotten away with ignoring workers who have come forward with labor violations. Spread the word! And please let us know of your efforts to denounce Secretary Chao's complacency.

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