Local garment workers staged a protest against two clothing factories in Long Island City, Queens on Tuesday. They were rallying for the rights of six Chinese workers, who are allegedly owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in back wages and were fired unlawfully from Great Wall Corp., a garment manufacturer, and Silver Fashion, a subcontractor which produces for Great Wall.
Over 100 demonstrators were in attendance, along with representatives from local advocacy groups including the Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association, National Mobilization against SweatShops, and New York City NOW.
“Long Island City is a sweatshop zone, these conditions are rampant and have only gotten worse through the years. Today we really want to make a stand,” said Jei Fong, an organizer with the Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association. “People need to demand better conditions; it’s the only way for the garment industry to improve.”
In December, the six workers filed a lawsuit with the National Labor Relations Board against Great Wall and Silver Fashion, which are each run by a husband and wife. The complaints alleged that the employers deducted 5% from the workers’ minimum wage pay, did not pay them for overtime, and reduced their piece-rate payments, despite work weeks of over 100 hours. However, the workers were fired from both factories shortly after the filing, leading to a second lawsuit for the wrongful termination.