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Sweatshops

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Sweatshops

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  1. Sweatshops David Lawson and David Buhr Fall 2006

  2. Who’s wearing NIKES? • Please check your shoes to see if they were manufactured in Vietnam, China, or Indonesia • If they were, they were produced in a sweatshop!

  3. Sweatshops Definition: • A shop employing workers at low wages, for long hours, and under poor conditions. • Factory where workers do piecework for poor pay and are prevented from forming unions; common in the clothing industry 

  4. Origins • Began between 1830 and 1850 • Caused by industrial revolution • Began in the Garment Industry • London, New York City • Sweating (1840’s) • Long Hours • Low Wages • Unsafe Conditions

  5. U.S. History • Began in the U.S. from Civil War need for Uniforms • Between 1850 and 1900, sweatshops attracted the rural poor to rapidly-growing cities • In 1900, the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union was founded in an effort to improve the condition of these workers. • First real union for garment workers • Founded in New York City • “Uprising of 20,000 in 1909” • The ILGWU accepted an arbitrated settlement in February 1910 that improved workers' wages, conditions, and hours, but did not provide union recognition • Muckrakers

  6. U.S. History • In 1910, the ILGWU led an even larger strike, later named "The Great Revolt", of 60,000 cloak makers. • Lasted Months • It led to the Agreement known as the "Protocol of Peace". In it, the ILGWU won union recognition and higher wages, as well as a rudimentary health benefits program. • Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - 1911 • 146 of the 500 employees had died • While trade unions, minimum wage laws, fire safety codes, and labor laws have made sweatshops (in the original sense) rarer in the developed world, they did not eliminate them. • 1994 Report

  7. “Benefits” of Sweatshops • Comparative Advantage • “If sweatshop jobs did not improve their workers' standard of living, those workers would not have taken the jobs” – Free Market Advocates • 1997 UNICEF study • 5,000 to 7,000 Nepalese children turned to prostitution after the US banned that country's carpet exports in the 1990s

  8. “Harm” of Sweatshops • Neoliberal Globalization • Race to the bottom • Workers Rights / Conditions

  9. Sweatshops and Wal-Mart

  10. Sweatshops and Wal-Mart • Wal-Mart products • Produced in 48 different countries • Products mainly from Asian and Central American factories • Produced using sweatshop labor

  11. Sweatshops and Wal-Mart • Wal-Mart as an importer • 10% of all Chinese imports are imported by Wal-Mart • Own global procurement division • The Wal-Mart Squeeze • Endless quest to squeeze countries for lower wages and cheaper goods • Lowering working standards where ever they go

  12. Sweatshops and Wal-Mart • Textiles and Wal-Mart • Produced by young women 17 to 25 years old • Forced to work seven days a week • 12 to 28 cents an hour • No benefits • Housed in crowded and dirty dormitories • 24-hour-a-day surveillance

  13. Sweatshops and Wal-Mart • “Toys of Misery” and Wal-Mart • Seventy-one percent of the toys sold in the U.S. come from China • 13- to 16-hour days molding, assembling, and spray-painting toys • 20-hour shifts in peak season (Christmas) • Seven days a week • Paid as low as 13 cents an hour • Live in Shacks or Dorms • No medical care or safety equipment • Poor Conditions

  14. Sweatshops and Wal-Mart • Not just China • Bangladesh • El Salvador

  15. Sweatshops and Wal-Mart • Some of the common abuses in the sweatshops • Forced overtime • Locked bathrooms • Starvation wages • Pregnancy tests • Denial of access to health care • Workers fired and blacklisted • Occasional beatings • Withheld wages

  16. Sweatshops and Wal-Mart • Not just over seas • US labor law violations • Violating child labor laws • Employees forced to work off the clock • Locking employees into stores overnight • Undocumented workers

  17. Sweatshops and Nike

  18. Sweatshops and Nike • Indonesia, China, and Vietnam produce Nike products • Why these 3 countries? • Labor laws are poorly enforced • Cheap labor is abundant • Local laws prohibit workers from forming independent trade unions • Nike’s Excuse • Don’t own factories • They only market shoes

  19. Sweatshops and Nike • Vietnam and Nike • There are about 35,000 workers at five Vietnamese plants • More than 90 percent of them are young women • 12-hour days making Nike shoes • Produce shoes in an unhealthy environment full of toxic chemicals • Recipients of beatings and withheld wages • Employees are making 20 cents an hour • Earn $2.40 a day - only slightly more than the $2 or so it costs to buy three healthy meals a day • Not allowed to use the bathroom more than once in an 8-hour shift • Allowed to drink water only twice per shift

  20. Sweatshops and Nike • Fun Facts • In many cases, employees are actually spending more just to live and work at the factories than they actually make. • Michael Jordan was given a shoe contract for $20 million dollars in the mid 1990’s. At the same time Nike and the factories paid the entire 35000 contracted Vietnamese employees only 30.5 million dollars for their work for the entire year. • Total labor costs for the shoes amount to less than $2 a pair; the shoes retail for up to $180 in the United States.

  21. Current Events as of November 2006 • Any changes in the last 10 years? • Not many • Codes of conduct and on-site monitoring • New laws • Little change • No enforcement • Corruption • Payoffs • Double Books • Hidden Production • Scripted responses

  22. GAP OLD NAVY Banana Republic Reebok Adidas Bridgestone Firestone Uniroyal Starbucks Sears Mattel Dell Hewlett Packard Motorola G.E. Walt Disney Target Home Depot J.C. Penny + others Companies Supporting Sweatshop Factories

  23. Sources: Business Week http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_48/b4011001.htm Business Research Yearbook http://cbae.nmsu.edu/mgt/handout/boje/bnike/index.html MCSpotlight http://www.mcspotlight.org/beyond/companies/antiwalmart.html Labor Rights http://www.laborrights.org/projects/corporate/walmart/index.html United Food and Commercial Workers http://www.ufcw.org/press_room/fact_sheets_and_backgrounder/walmart/sweat_shops.cfm