A U.S. Department of Labor report of working conditions at garment shops in San Francisco and Oakland, CA reveals that established shops and closely-monitored shops were more likely than others to obey federal labor laws.
Businesses which “effectively monitored” a shop’s compliance with labor laws had a 90% compliance rate. Manufacturers who took at least one action to encourage compliance had a 76% compliance rate, and manufacturers that took no action had a 57% compliance rate. Companies that had previously been found in violation of labor laws and companies that have existed for at least 2 years were more likely than new businesses to have high compliance rates.
Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman commented, “The survey clearly demonstrates that shops effectively monitored by manufacturers are more likely to obey labor laws” and promised that “the insights provided by this survey will be instrumental in fine-tuning our efforts to use enforcement, education and partnerships to continue to improve compliance in this industry.”
The garment shops’ overall levels of compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, at 74%, has changed little from figures gathered in 1997. However, this compliance rate is significantly higher than the 57% compliance rate recorded in 1995. The DOL has recovered almost $18 million in back wages for underpaid workers since its “No Sweat” campaign began in 1993.