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Garment Industry Los Angeles County

CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 20, 1995 | KARL SCHOENBERGER and PATRICK J. McDONNELL and ELSON TRINIDAD, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
They gathered around a picnic table shaded by towering eucalyptus trees in a breezy San Fernando Valley park, four refugees from a horror story. Smiling, laughing, beaming with joy and relief. They're free. And the future is what they are thinking about now. Decent jobs, maybe legal status in the United States or a happy return to Thailand and a long-deferred reunion with loved ones.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 18, 1995 | PATRICK J. McDONNELL and PAUL FELDMAN, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
A federal grand jury in Los Angeles Thursday indicted nine alleged operators of an El Monte apparel sweatshop, charging that the forced-labor ring recruited workers in Thailand, smuggled them into the United States, confined them under threat, censored their mail and monitored their telephone calls. All nine defendants are charged with conspiracy and concealing and harboring illegal immigrants. The accused could face up to five years in prison and $250,000 fines on each of those charges.
NEWS
August 17, 1995 | KATHLEEN KELLEHER, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
"Hey, dude, let's do 18." When the waves go flat, get too crowded or pose a health threat because of pollution, some surfers have a Plan B: playing golf. But how to suit up? In hopes of helping their buds avoid hidy (hideous) duds, Lon Davis, 40, and J.C. Wynkoop, 31, founded Planet Golf in 1992. "There was nothing that filled our peer group's needs. . . . It was like searching for the Holy Grail," says Davis, who acts as the Venice company's creative director.
NEWS
August 16, 1995 | PETER H. KING
The man wore a fine silk shirt, buttoned to the collar, no tie. His pleated slacks were made of wool, dark charcoal in color, the pant legs flowing over boots of black leather. Nice threads. He seemed a nice fellow too, almost shy. He spoke with an accent brought over from Manchester, England, where at age 17 he had plunged into the garment trade. He described himself as an "honest, hard-working man" out to make "an honest living." As he spoke, another man stood beside him at all times.
NEWS
August 16, 1995 | PATRICK J. McDONNELL and PAUL FELDMAN, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
Overwhelmed by a proliferation of sweatshops in Southern California's fast-growing garment industry, California and U.S. officials declared Tuesday that new approaches are needed to combat a problem that has thwarted traditional law enforcement. Only about 45 state and federal inspectors monitor the about 4,000 Los Angeles-area sewing shops, or contractors, that employ about 100,000 people, said California Labor Commissioner Victoria Bradshaw.
NEWS
August 15, 1995 | PATRICK J. McDONNELL and PAUL FELDMAN, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
Clothing produced at an El Monte sweatshop raided by investigators this month may have ended up on the racks of some of the nation's best known department stores, including Macy's, Robinsons-May and Filene's, according to federal officials and documents obtained by The Times. The list of firms targeted by the U.S. Labor Department provides the first indication of the volume and breadth of the sweatshop's business. The list may grow as the investigation continues, authorities say.
NEWS
August 14, 1995 | CHRISTOPHER SCHEER, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Forty years ago, Wittipong Withiboompronsak was an orphan living in a Buddhist temple. Ten years ago, he was sewing clothes in Thailand for about $3 a day. Four years ago, he came to the United States and, authorities say, he became a virtual slave. Seven days ago, he was being ordered "back to the tank" by an Immigration and Naturalization Service agent while under federal detention, a towel around his shoulders and a tense, bewildered expression on his face.
BUSINESS
August 14, 1995
Fashion Industry Seeks to Mend: Even as the image of the Los Angeles fashion industry suffers under charges that immigrant garment workers were detained against their will in an El Monte sweatshop, garment trade leaders plan to meet this week to address industry concerns and unveil plans for a major new trade show scheduled for Los Angeles next year. The New California Apparel Assn., an industry task force formed in April, gathers Tuesday in its second board meeting.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 13, 1995 | LUCILLE RENWICK, TIMES STAFF WRITER
For more than a year she toiled in slave-like conditions, one of her few mental escapes the peaceful preachings of the monks at the Wat Thai Buddhist Temple here, broadcast on Thai radio. Their soothing prayers allowed her mind to drift and, just as it had for many in Los Angeles' vast Thai community, the temple became a sanctuary for the 27-year-old garment worker, who was released from federal custody Friday with about two dozen other refugees--all Thai women--from an El Monte sweatshop.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 13, 1995 | PATRICK J. McDONNELL, TIMES STAFF WRITER
As federal investigators intensified their manhunt for two suspected principals of an El Monte sweatshop, the 72 workers who authorities say were virtually enslaved at the clandestine factory savored their first full day of freedom Saturday.
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