“Schmatta” is a gateway to success in immigrants’ new land: The apparel industry provided an entree for scores of central European immigrants, whose children and grandchildren went on to achieve the American dream.
The “Schmatta” business was once New York City’s biggest employer: At its peak in 1973, there were 400,000 apparel production jobs in New York. Last year (2007), there were just 84,000.
Made in USA: Former president John F. Kennedy put outsourcing in motion by allowing 5 percent of garments to be produced outside the U.S. in 1965, and today (2009) only 5 percent of garments are American-made, the film reports .
“Schmatta” is not just clothes, but a microcosm of the current world order : As economics and globalization shifted production of 95% of U.S. – sold apparel overseas, the garment industry got into trouble. The film shows the plight of designers, small-business owners and employees such as Joe Raico, a fabric cutter and local shop union chief who took a buyout after 43 years. This may be a New York story. But it's also a microcosm of what happened to steel, autos, textiles, shoes .
The Importance of Social Compliance: On a historical level, "Schmatta" documents the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, which was the worst industrial fire in New York City history, and then later directly links this tragedy with a more recent one in a Bangladesh sweatshop in 2007. Fire exits were locked and fabrics were strewn around the factory, in defiance of any sense of safety in the unventilated lofts.
The Turning Point of The Labor Movement: Triangle Shirtwaist Fire spurred a protest movement to improve working conditions and set wage and hour standards. The state legislature enacted 36 new labor laws within three years.
David Dubinsky played a crucial role in organizing unions in industries: The ILGWU gained substantial power under David Dubinsky, who became president in 1932. Under Dubinsky's 32-year reign, which was marked by...
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