Garment workers

Garment Workers, Paid Per Piece, Say They'll Keep Fighting to Change System

"In the garment industry, there's a lot of exploitation and a lot of wage theft," said Santa Son, who has worked sewing clothing for over 15 years

Empty hangers on row. France.
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California garment worker Santa Son had hoped this was the year the state Legislature would end a system that pays her and other workers for the number of items they make — not the hours they work, NBC News reports.

Some days, her job is to stitch tags or labels for clothes that carry the proud slogan "Made in America" or "Made in LA."

"Those pay you around 3 cents apiece," said Son, who has worked in the industry for over 15 years.

Son said that under the piece-rate system, she has to work 60 hours to 75 hours a week to earn $300. Although a state law is supposed to ensure that employers make up the difference so workers get paid the minimum wage, the U.S. Labor Department found wage violations in 85 percent of the California garment factories it visited.

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