Students Help Bring Light to Sweatshops

A Cal State LA graphic design summer class partnered with the Garment Worker Center on hosting a fundraising event

Marisa Vasquez, Editor-In-Chief

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A mountain of 632 articles of clothing graced Cal State LA’s walkway for a fundraiser this past month. The visual represented the large sum of clothing a garment worker is asked to complete in one day for a mere 8 cents a garment, a total of roughly $50.56 a day. 

Not a Yard Sale, a fundraising event, was put together by students enrolled in the course, Art and Design of the Community. The class, offered by Cal State LA’s Art Department, was designed for students to work side by side with the Garment Worker Center in order to make the fundraiser possible.

Cal State LA Graphic Design and Visual Communications major student, Bolivar Hernandez, explained that the event was “a collaborative work ethic between everyone amongst the class. We had to communicate a lot with the Garment Worker Center so we [could] help them get whatever they need.”

The mountain of clothes, an idea derived from the art class, posed as an unconventional way to fundraise for the Garment Worker Center’s cause. Event organizers invited passerbyers to filter through the pile and purchase the garments which ran a dollar each.

 The Garment Worker Center Director, Marissa Nuncio, explained that her hope while planning the event with the Art students was to “engage different people so that they can hear about our mission, so that they can hear about our work campaigns.” 

The Garment Worker Center is currently petitioning against retail store, Ross, who conducts production in local LA factories. Currently, garment workers make an hourly rate of $4 or $5. The center is demanding that Ross raises their pay to minimum wage standards. 

According to the center, factories in LA who operate under minimum wage are considered sweatshops.

“That’s a big part of our work is raising consumer awareness so that folks know, if you see something that says ‘made in the USA,’ it was most likely made in LA, and you shouldn’t assume it was made above board.”

Nuncio went on to say that the everyday consumers could be mindful of sweatshop workers in LA by being aware of their needs and support their cause.

“Try to educate yourself… I don’t believe we’re going to shop our way out of this by either buying the right thing or staying away from the wrong things,” Nuncio said. “We have to fight for better policy, we have to fight for good brand accountability and to support workers. But, pay attention to what workers are asking for.”

For more information and upcoming events, go to the Garment Worker Center website at garmentworkercenter.org.

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