The 1982 strike represented the peak of the union movement in the Chinatown garment industry. During the 1980s and 1990s, union membership dramatically declined for a number of reasons. Jobs along with entire factories in the American garment industry disappeared because of foreign competition that utilized cheap labor to produce garments at lower cost. Meanwhile, rising rents and utility charges in Chinatown forced most of the remaining garment shops to relocate to other areas such as Sunset Park, Brooklyn and Flushing, Queens where business costs were significantly lower.

In addition, many new immigrants were willing to work at non-union shops that paid higher wages in exchange for decreased benefits with no health coverage. Their main concern was earning enough money to meet their daily needs and those of their families. Workers also knew that they could apply, if necessary, for government social assistance programs such as Medicaid, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and food stamps.

Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Wing Fong Chin did not waver. In September 1985, Chin testified before two Congressional committees in Washington, DC in support of a bill that would have restricted imports and thereby saved jobs of garment workers in America.

"I want to ask you if you let imports destroy the garment industry, where will people like myself find work? How will we be able to provide for our families? . . . Please understand that we are not asking for special favors. We don't want hand-outs or welfare. All we are asking for is the chance to earn a living. It is very hard right now, but it is not impossible. But if you ignore us, the message you will send is that there is no room in the United States for people like myself. Please vote to save our jobs."

-- Wing Fong Chin,
Local 23-25 Executive Board Chair,testifying before Congress, September 1985