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Transcript of Sweatshops
Veronica Rodriguez Unethical or a livelihood? Early History 1820-1880 American cities (New Yorks garment industries), UK (London), Australia and other places
Garment industry was expanding, causing a need for seamstresses and dressmakers.
Dressmakers would make a decent wage, however seamstresses were poorly compensated for work that was both physically demanding and unpredictable.
Seamstresses were paid by piece and worked 16 hours a day during the busiest seasons.
Income rarely exceeded bare subsistence.
Shop owners often found fault in finished garments and withheld payment 1880-1940 Recent immigrants to America converted small apartments into contract shops
Fierce competition among contractors for work and immigrants caused desperate need for employment, kept wages down and hours up
Although the conditions were miserable it provided immigrants with a transition into American society and a more prosperous future
In 1910, the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union was founded to try to improve the condition of these workers
March 25, 1911: Most infamous sweatshop incident in the US occurred at the Triangle Waist Company in NYC with a fire breaking out. 146 deaths
As some journalists strove to change working conditions, the term sweatshop came to refer to a broader set of workplaces whose conditions were considered inferior.
While some that started in these shops eventually owned their own shops, many others succumbed to disease, malnutrition and exhaustion never getting the opportunity for a better life 1940-Present Sweatshop production became known in the late 1960's
Changes in the retail industry, a growing global economy, increased reliance on contracting and a large pool of immigrant labor in the Us contributed to the growth of sweatshops
In a report issued in 1994, the United States Government Accountability Office found that there were still thousands of sweatshops in the United States, using a definition of a sweatshop as any "employer that violates more than one federal or state labor law governing minimum wage and overtime, child labor, industrial homework, occupational safety and health, workers' compensation, or industry registration" WHERE: South and Central America
Middle East Abercrombie and Fitch
Pier 1 Imports
Walmart. The official inductees of the 2010 Sweatshop Hall of Shame are: Sweatshops Today Still have yet to be abolished
New ways to cut labor costs, and in these locations sweatshops flourished
Labor supply and wage expectations were low
Most modern sweatshops exist in poorer developing countries, but can exist anywhere with a vulnerable population
Undocumented workers susceptible to sweatshop labor
Sweatshops heavily populated by women
Governments in many developing nations are reluctant to enforce strong worker-protection laws
Received national attention, consumers advised not to purchase certain brands
Awareness of sweatshop conditions increasing
Pressure to decrease sweatshop practices Pros vs. Cons Pros Cons Creates jobs and provides capital for development
Governments from other countries view cheap labor as a major assets attracting investment by multi-national companies
Claim that sweatshops provide the best wages and working conditions available to workers in developing countries
Theory holds that developing countries improve their condition by doing something that they do "better" than industrialized nations
Although wages and working conditions may appear inferior by the standards of developed nations, they are actually improvements over what the people in developing countries had before
U.s can't force our "ethical" views or ideas on another country because they have a different perspective. What we may see as unethical they see it as a better life than what they could be having Poor working conditions
Cramped working spaces
Critics point out that sweatshop workers often do not earn enough money to buy the products that they make
Critics of sweatshops point to the fact that those in the West who defend sweatshops show double standards by complaining about sweatshop labor conditions in countries considered enemies or hostile by Western governments, while still gladly consuming their exports but complaining about the quality Ethics Topics Cultural Relativism: The concept that morality varies from one culture to another and business practices are therefore differentially defined as right or wrong by particular cultures
Our ideas and beliefs are only relative to our society and what we are used to and have grown up with.
We can't push our views and beliefs on other countries because they have a different culture and different perspectives.
We can't say what they are doing is "wrong" because that is their culture and we are no better and in no position to determine what is wrong or right
We came from different perspectives
American perspective : "we need to control what everyone is doing, we are the only one's that are right" Ethics Topics Social Responsibility The obligation a business assumes to maximize its positive effect while minimizing its negative effect on society
Economic- investors may not invest in the company it they are participating in unethical practices
Legal- contracts with sweatshops still have to obey U.S laws
Ethical- Conditions and wages are not ethical according to US standards Questions to spark discussion *Should sweatshops be banned all over the world even if that meant increased costs, which will be passed on to the consumer
*Does America have the right to determine what is right or wrong in other cultures??
*Do sweatshop jobs really provide a better livelihood to workers in undeveloped countries? Works Cited
"Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A History of American Sweatshops, 1820-Present."
History Matters. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2013. http://historymatters.gmu.edu/ d/145>.
“Sweatshops” Encyclopedia.com. N.p., n.d. 07 May 2013. http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Sweatshops.aspx
"Sweatshop Hall of Fame." Labor Rights. International Labor Rights, 2010. Web. 8 May 2013. http://www.laborrights.org/sites/default/files/publications-and-resources/sweatshop_hall_shame_2010.pdf