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Made in L.A.

Made in L.A. (2007) is a documentary on POV (a documentary series on the Public Broadcasting Service that started in 1988) about undocumented garment workers in Los Angeles sweatshops that make clothes for Forever 21 in substandard working conditions for less than minimum wage. In the documentary, they are advised to advocate for their rights, and subsequently bring a lawsuit against the company, which leads to boycotts against the retail chain. In this clip, while her three children play, one of the protagonists, Maria Pineda, talks about immigrating to the United States with her young husband at the age of eighteen with hopes of studying and starting a career. Instead she ended up working long hours in the garment industry in dangerous working conditions.

discussion

What is the picture we are shown of the Los Angeles garment district and its workers? Why does the film follow individual workers and tell their personal stories?

What were the substandard working conditions that Maria and other workers endured when she began working in the garment industry? Specifically, think about working hours, breaks, and safety.

What makes it possible for sweatshop conditions to exist in a country as rich as the United States? Whose responsibility is it to regulate or make sure workers are not exploited?

What are some of the avenues for change explored in the video? Is the film, itself, a vehicle for change?