VI-"Merlina faces the labor commissioner - and wins" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

VI-"Merlina faces the labor commissioner - and wins" - Merle Linda Wolin - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

by: Merle Linda Wolin | publication date: January 20, 1981 | Publication: Los Angeles Herald-Examiner | pages: A1 & A13

The offices of the state labor commissioner, on the fifth floor at 107 S. Broadway, are painted hospital green and off white, a no-nonsense kind of place.  In the large, rectangular shaped entry room, clerks stand behind an old, built-in wooden counter that divides the space into offices and a waiting room.  That day, nearly everyone in the waiting room was either black or spoke Spanish. I never would have complained to the Labor Commission had I not know that what happened to me at Ernst Strauss Inc. happens to garment workers every day. Labor Department officials believe that many employers regularly refuse to pay but because the workers are largely undocumented - an estimated 90 percent of them in Los Angeles are here without papers- they get away with it.  

The reporter confronts a union shop she worked in undercover as an undocumented worker as part of an investigation into LA's garment industry.

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