April 27 Event to Spotlight Rampant Wage Theft
Caroline Luce Ph.D. is a lecturer at UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor & Employment. Her specialty is immigration, labor, and working-class culture in the American West. She is also a member of the Buy Your Values UCLA Steering Committee and is coordinating the Pay Your Workers campaign to bring speakers to UCLA.
Q: Two workers who were fired from the Hulu Garment factory in Cambodia, where they sewed products for Amazon and Adidas, will be speaking at UCLA on April 27th. Do today’s students have a strong interest in what is happening in garment sweatshops overseas?
Dr. Luce: The term “sweatshop” isn’t on the tip of their tongues, like it was for students in the 1990s. But fast fashion and the movement for “clean” clothes are familiar terms to them. You get the sense on campus that students do want to get involved but more from a “green” angle. Daniel Cardozo of Ethix Merch and I want students to see the labor aspects, not just environmental ones, of the garment industry and how the two are connected.
Q: Do social media channels like TikTok help to generate student activism in the garment industry?
Dr. Luce: Students get a lot of information about fast fashion from TikTok. For example, the clothing giant Shien uses influencers to publicize just how cheap its clothes are. So now, legions of young people on TikTok are creating anti-Shien TikToks. It’s a new frontier for activism.
Q: What do you hope that presentations like the Pay Your Workers event on April 27th will accomplish at UCLA?
Dr. Luce: I would like to see these events reignite student action on campus and in the community, so there is more than just talk. Presentations like these give students a chance to recognize and use their leverage in their immediate community. They feel empowered and helps to connect them to local organizations like the Garment Worker Center here in Los Angeles.
Chhorpesal Chhom and Sreymich Hai, who were fired from the Hulu Garment factory in Cambodia, will speak about the wage theft and retaliation they endured and the need for accountability from major brands. The presentation is April 27th at 2 PM at Public Affairs 5391 on the UCLA campus.