City Paper is not for tourists
Fair wages and reasonable working hours are good. Therefore, sweatshops are bad. Any feeling human being would agree, right? Made in L.A. tells what director Almudena Carracedo apparently believes will be a universally sympathetic story, though it arrives at a time when illegal immigration has become a highly contentious issue. The film focuses on three undocumented women from Mexico and Central America who came to California hoping for more prosperous lives. They found jobs in the garment industry but soon were subjected to 12-hour days, take-home work, and incomes that were below minimum wage, when they got paychecks at all. The scenario was so prevalent that the Garment Worker Center was formed in order to educate immigrants about both English and their rights. The center became an especially important part in the women’s lives when someone discovered a retailer, Forever 21, via subcontractors, was giving them pennies per item. Made in L.A. then follows a three-year boycott of and lawsuit against the retailer. The power of organization and the temptation to give up are prevalent themes, and when workers tell their stories through tears, you may be quick to side with them. Anyone who’s not so enthusiastic about the idea of illegal workers, though, will certainly feel otherwise.