“Sweatshops in Paradise”: Forced into workplace slavery
Attorney defends abused workers at “Sweatshops in Paradise”
When nine Vietnamese women arrived at Virginia Lynn Sudbury’s small law office in American Samoa, she wasn’t certain she would take the case. The workers at the Daewoosa garment factory were trying to get the company to pay them promised wages. She took the case without knowing the impact it would have.
Her book, Sweatshops in Paradise, tells the first-person account of the notorious garment factory/sweatshop class-action lawsuit Nga v. Daewoosa, which took place in the territory of American Samoa from 1999 until 2001. This precedent-setting case drew international attention to the issues surrounding involuntary servitude and human tracking.
“This is a story that needs to be told,” says Sudbury. “Human trafficking is an increasingly lucrative and common practice, and Sweatshops in Paradise will bring attention to its prevalence.”
Sudbury, who was the lead plaintiff attorney, narrates the story of 300 Vietnamese and Chinese workers who were brought to American Samoa to work in the Daewoosa garment factory. They encountered civil injustices, rampant abuse and imprisonment at the hands of the factory owner and the local government.
“This is the firsthand account of a large sweatshop case that personalizes the struggles of the workers,” Sudbury says. “Since this was the then-largest case of its type and took place on American soil on a tiny South Pacific island, there’s no other book like it.”
Sweatshops in Paradise draws upon hearing transcripts, newspaper articles and narratives from the largest lawsuit in American Samoa’s history. It provides a poignant accounting of the fears of the workers and the abuses they endured.
Sweatshops in Paradise
By Virginia Lynn Sudbury
Paperback 8.5x8.5, retail price: $16.95
E-book, retail price: $3.99
Virginia Lynn Sudbury is a graduate of Illinois State University and DePaul University College of Law. She and her husband, Robert, sailed across the Pacific to American Samoa via Mexico. They started U’una’i Legal Services, the territory’s first legal services organization. Sudbury now practices law in Salt Lake City, Utah.