Feds to crack down on SoCal sweatshops

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(AP) – Federal labor officials say they’re cracking down on sweatshop conditions in parts of Southern California’s garment industry to protect workers and educate employers. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis says a multi-year enforcement initiative is being launched Thursday to curb what she calls consistent and widespread violations of federal laws on minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping.

In the past five years, labor officials have conducted 1,500 investigations in the region’s garment industry. In 93 percent of those investigations, violations were uncovered and officials found that more than $11 million in back wages were due to 11,000 workers.

Investigators say garment workers are often paid by the piece they sew or cut, resulting in pay that is as low as $6 per hour. That’s well below federal minimum wage of $7.25.

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