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Garment Industry Los Angeles County

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.
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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.
NEWS
August 12, 1995 | KARL SCHOENBERGER and PATRICK J. McDONNELL and SHAWN HUBLER, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
Nearly two dozen of the 72 Thai garment workers who toiled in alleged prison-like conditions in an El Monte sweatshop finally tasted freedom Friday--in some cases years after they began their ordeal. In all, 21 of the 72 ex-workers--all suspected illegal immigrants--were set free from federal custody after bonds of $500 per person were posted.
NEWS
August 11, 1995 | KARL SCHOENBERGER, TIMES STAFF WRITER
The young Thai woman standing nervously by the bank of elevators on the 10th floor of the federal court building Thursday afternoon was hoping to get a glimpse of the defendants in a nearby courtroom, without getting too close. A wrong step could ruin her life. She too had been captive in that sweatshop of horrors in El Monte, until she and a companion scaled the complex's wall in a bold escape two years ago.
NEWS
August 9, 1995 | PAUL FELDMAN and PATRICK J. McDONNELL and GEORGE WHITE, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
Two major retailers were drawn into a widening web of turmoil Tuesday in connection with an El Monte sweatshop where authorities found more than 70 Thai immigrants toiling in alleged prison-like conditions. State officials said they had subpoenaed Mervyn's department store and were set to subpoena Montgomery Ward to determine whether the chains can be held liable for laborers' back wages.
BUSINESS
August 5, 1995 | GEORGE WHITE and PATRICK LEE, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
Apparel manufacturers that bought garments produced by Thai nationals who labored in debt servitude will be liable for millions of dollars in back wages owed those workers, as well as stiff fines, California Labor Commissioner Victoria Bradshaw said Friday. The alleged garment sweatshop in El Monte raided this week was not registered with the California Department of Industrial Relations.
BUSINESS
August 5, 1995 | VICKI TORRES, TIMES STAFF WRITER
El Monte is a city of fences. Spike-topped wrought-iron bars surround homes, condominium complexes and even the most ramshackle apartments. Chain-link fences can stretch six feet high around homes in residential neighborhoods, and barbed wire is a common sight on many commercial business in this town with active gangs and a small police force.
BUSINESS
August 4, 1995 | GEORGE WHITE, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Once a year, at a New Year's celebration, they would be released from the compound in El Monte. Loaded into the backs of trucks that were normally used to haul fabric, they would be transported to a garment shop in Downtown Los Angeles for a New Year's party. After celebrating whatever they could find to celebrate, they were trucked back to El Monte.
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