- Understand how and why some immigrants are vulnerable to exploitation.
- Understand and can identify the push and pull factors of immigration.
- Analyze and understand the pyramid structure set up by the garment industry to shield companies from legal responsibilities as they and their contractors exploited workers.
- Identify the importance and role of solidarity in the garment workers’ case in being successfully won.
- What conditions, systems, and structures made the labor exploitation faced by the garment workers possible?
- What are the various challenges that these garment workers faced, first in challenging the exploitation they faced and then in finding new jobs?
- How did each of the various groups, organizations, and communities involved in the garment worker case contribute to the success of the lawsuit?
Su, Julie. “Freeing Ourselves From Prison Sweatshops: Thai Garment Workers Speak Out.” Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles. https://archive.advancingjustice-la.org/what-we-do/leadership-development/untold-civil-rights-stories/freeing-ourselves-prison-sweatshops. Accessed 18 Jan. 2021
- Exploitation: a situation in which someone or entity treats another in an unfair way, especially in order to profit from their work
- Migrant: a person who moves from one place to another in order to find work or better living conditions
- Solidarity: joining or working together as one based on common interests or goals
- Sweatshop: a workplace, shop or factory in which employees work for long hours at low wages and under unhealthy conditions²
- Work Permit: an official government document required for someone to work in a foreign country
²Definitation is adopted from Merriam-Webster Dictionary
- Ask students to answer each of the following questions with their shoulder partner.
- Why might someone move from their home country to go live somewhere new, where they may not have ever been before or know anyone else there?
- Do you think you would ever move to a new country to start a new life there? What do you think would motivate you to do that (or not do that)?
- If you were going to move to another country, what are some issues you would need to consider before doing so?
Select a couple students to share out their answer for each question. For question #3, please be sure to highlight learning a new language, documentation to live and work in the country, finding a job/school, finding housing, cost of moving, and leaving behind family/friends/possessions as things to consider if they are not mentioned by students in their answers.
- Pass out a printout of the “Migration – Push & Pull Factors” webpage (https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z3p4b82/revision/1). Instruct students to read the handout, underlining anything that stands out to them.
- With the whole class, discuss the following questions.
- What is the difference between a push factor and a pull factor?
- Based on the reasons given for why someone might migrate to another country, when do you think migration is forced and when is it voluntary? Explain your answer.
- Looking at the push and pull factors listed in the handout, what do you think some particular reasons for migrating that are more acceptable than others? Explain your answer.
- Migrating to a new country is difficult for many reasons, including restrictions that different countries have for accepting new immigrants. Do you think it’s fair for foreign countries to make it hard for people to migrate? Why or why not?
- Ask students to think back to question #3 of the pair-share activity in section A about the issues a migrant would need to consider when moving to a new country. Give students 5 minutes to do a quick-write reflecting on what they have learned and the difficulties that immigrants may face, not only in migrating but also in starting an entire new life in a new home country.
- Divide students into groups of three. Have them read the Thai Garment Workers Speak Out essay, article, and blog post (each student can read one source.) Next, have the students collectively discuss and answer the questions in the “El Monte Sweatshop” worksheet.
- Describe the workers who were held captive and working at the El Monte sweatshop.
- Describe the living and working conditions of the garment workers at El Monte.
- How did the raid on El Monte and the subsequent lawsuit impact immigration laws?
- What was the impact of the El Monte raid and lawsuit on the Thai and Latinx garment workers?
- What were the consequences for the operators of the sweatshop and companies that contracted with El Monte?
El Monte Sweatshop Article: https://americanhistory.si.edu/sweatshops/el-monte
Blog Post: https://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/el-monte-sweatshop-raid
- To demonstrate learning, summarize the El Monte case through one of the following activities:
- Create a flyer celebrating the win in the El Monte case. Be sure to include details about the case’s outcome and impact on the workers.
- Write an op-ed about the El Monte case, highlighting the role of the various groups involved and the impact of the case. (500-700 words)
- Have students read and analyze the Garment Industry Pyramid Structure.
- Ask students to summarize how the pyramid structure is set up to exploit those at the bottom, and shield those at the top from legal responsibilities.
- Have students research and write an essay about a current or recent case of labor exploitation. Student essays must cover the following:
- What happened or is happening in the modern-day example you have selected?
- Impact: Who are the workers involved? What makes them vulnerable to exploitative working conditions?
- Responsibility: In the case of El Monte, the companies, in addition to the contractors, were found to be responsible for the sweatshop. In your modern-day example, who is responsible? Consider the power they have. How and/or why is labor exploitation possible in this situation? (Use the Garment Industry Pyramid Structure for reference.)
- Solution & Accountability: How can this exploitation be stopped and prevented from happening again? How can those responsible for the exploitation be held accountable? How do your proposed solution and accountability method address and take the workers’ needs and experiences into account?
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles – Thai Garment Workers: https://archive.advancingjustice-la.org/what-we-do/curriculum-lesson-plans/asian-americans-k-12-education-curriculum/Thai-Garment-Workers. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.
- El Monte, National Museum of American History. https://americanhistory.si.edu/sweatshops/el-monte. Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.
- Liebold, Peter. 25 Years Later: The Legacy of the El Monte Sweatshop Raid, National Museum of American History. 31 July 2020. https://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/el-monte-sweatshop-raid. Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.
- Push and Pull Factors – Migration, BBC Bitesize. https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z3p4b82/revision/1. Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.
Prabhneek Heer, Antony Wong
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