When people think about sweatshops, they seldom think about Los Angeles being an epicenter for exploitation. However, with an unnoticed presence, the cut and sew apparel industry stands as Los Angeles’ second largest industry, employing over 46,000 individuals. Woven into the fabric of the city, this underground economy’s workers are inextricably tied to the undocumented community, making the industry notorious for wage theft, worker intimidation, and poor health and safety conditions.
Here, the garment industry hums as the background noise of the city.
Here, garment workers toil 12 hour days, working hastily for a piece rate of 3¢ a garment in the hopes of reaching a $5 hourly wage. The piece rate hasn’t changed in the last 40 years.
In December 2018, a group of Los Angeles garment workers went on a caravan to San Francisco, home to the Ross headquarters, who collectively owed 4 garment workers over $800,000 in unpaid wages. Julianna was among these workers.
This photo series documents her journey in the Bay Area: from the bus ride, morning prayers outside a church, tours through Chinatown (once a garment district), quiet moments at lunch, to her passion amid the final protest.