News/US: Some Chicago immigrants work in sweatshops-survey

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Subject: News/US: Some Chicago immigrants work in sweatshops-survey
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Nov 24 1999 - 12:40:06 EST


Some Chicago immigrants work in sweatshops-survey

CHICAGO, Nov 18 (Reuters) - More than one-third of immigrant and low-income
workers surveyed in Chicago work in sweatshops with low wages, long hours,
and unhealthy conditions, researchers said on Thursday.

Billed as the first survey of sweatshops in a major U.S. city, a coalition
of dozens of community and social service organizations questioned 790
immigrant and low-income workers and found nearly 36 percent labored in
workplaces that qualify as sweatshops.

"It was much worse than we thought and exists across many industries," said
Robert Ginsburg, of the Center for Labor and Community Research.

A number of factors qualify a workplace as a sweatshop, including at least
two of the following: Wages below the $5.15 an hour legal minimum, a lack
of proper bathrooms, poor ventilation, a pattern of sexual harassment, and
locked exits.

Ginsburg, a co-author of the report, projected that the bottom 10 percent
of Chicago's 2.5 million workers -- or 250,000 people -- may be working in
sweatshop conditions.

Workplaces with fewer employees were more likely to be described as
sweatshops, as were job sites employing much younger or much older workers.

The report would be forwarded to the U.S. Department of Labor, Ginsburg said.

Melanie Orhant

morhant@igc.org
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