While it might be surprising to some that sweatshops still exist in the USA in 2009, low-income immigrant workers around the country are all too familiar with the grim reality of long hours, illegally low pay, and abuse from management. While Brandworkers’ Focus on the Food Chain campaign challenges sweatshop conditions in the food industry, our friends at the Ain't I a Woman?! campaign are taking on the garment industry.

The Ain't I a Woman?! campaign is a joint project of the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops and Chinese Staff & Workers Association, two NYC-based workers’ centers. The campaign aims to hold clothing companies accountable for the working conditions in their factories. This task is not always easy given the level of contracting and subcontracting that allows clothing companies to distance themselves from the sweatshops in which their clothes are sewn.

Despite these challenges, NYC garment workers, community members, and activists are organizing for better working conditions and more accountability.

Over 100 garments workers rallied outside Great Wall Corp in Long Island City, Queens last Tuesday. Great Wall is a garment factory and subcontractor for Silver Fashions Inc. Workers say they frequently worked 100 hour weeks for as little as $300 and were even forced to work overnight at the factory (Queens Chronicle).

In November 2008, six workers filed a lawsuit against Great Wall for violating several federal and state labor laws. A month later, the company terminated all the workers who filed suit plus an additional 50 workers.