Business agents (Labor union officials)
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2008.040.025 Oral History Interview with Connie Ling February 12, 2008

Connie Ling, born in the Philippines and later a resident of Hong Kong during the 1960s, summarizes her experiences emigrating with her husband from Hong Kong to New York in 1967. Ling initially lived and worked in Chinatown, where she found employment as a machine operator in a garment factory. During her ten years working for the garment industry, Ling recalls an influx of Chinese immigrants and substantial growth in industrial businesses. After serving as a factory chairwoman for several years, she was eventually recruited as a union representative for UNITE in 1982, speaking for workers rights and mediating conflicts between workers and employers. At the time of her interview, Ling estimated that there were only approximately 100 union garment factories left. She attributes this decrease to the aftermath of September 11th, which caused commercial rent to double and garment industries to outsource labor to Sri Lanka, Mexico, and China. Ling also talks about the gentrification in Chinatown, stating that new condominiums are replacing old shops and factories while rent inflation is forcing old residents to move out of Chinatown. She goes on to note the growth among the Fukienese and Puerto Rican immigrant populations in the Lower East Side and expresses discontent with the growing number of Caucasian residents in Chinatown. Ling concludes by reflecting on how Chinatown’s garment industry is not likely to return due to significant changes in manufacturing and rent.