• We're a fun, friendly, and diverse group of planners, placemakers, built environment shapers, students, and other folks who found their people here. Create your FREE Cyburbia ID, and join us today! Register through your Reddit, Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Microsoft account, or use your email address.

Sweatshops, such as nike and gap

TURaj

Member
Messages
13
Points
1
THinking about the wages that companies such as Nike and Gap give to workers overseas really bothers me sometimes. Workers are paid wages insufficient to meet their basic needs, are not allowed to organize independent unions, and often face health and safety hazards.

Would You boycott the products sold by these companies to pressure them to pay higher wages and improve working conditions for their employees outside the U.S. Why or why not?

but then i hit reality and realize that it is impossible to boycott all products made in sweatshops. Even the smallest things are produced in these shops that we have no idea about. I think the best idea to try and improve condtions in sweatshops is to educate the public in 3rd world countries and the united states. By educating te workers in these plants about better condtions they can show thier managers and higher offiials what they want. The whole process is ongoing and will never be solved but by slowly educating the workers some good might be done.

let me know what you think
 

The Irish One

Member
Messages
2,267
Points
24
By educating te workers in these plants about better condtions they can show thier managers and higher offiials what they want.
The manager will show them the literal foot in the ass on the way out the door.

The whole process is ongoing and will never be solved but by slowly educating the workers some good might be done.
True, but there are 6 billion and counting to 9 billion people, so you understand that dirt poor uneducated sick starving people will take what they can get with no questions asked.

What do you think about my point ?Turaj
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
29
[soap box]

LONG


This all ties into my belief in "social capital", those with the capital should act socially responsibly.

It is possible to buy most clothing items not made in sweatshops, it is just difficult to find them sometimes and definitely more expensive.

I say this as I sit here wearing the following clothes

socks - by defeet a small company from north carolina that makes custom cycling socks. They burnt down and restarted, and kept most staff on while they rebuilt.
underwear - stanfields, made in truro nova scotia
jeans - levis - made in canada - union label on tags
shirt - no name tshirt, made in canada
shoes - New Balance, made in the USA
sweater-hand knit by mom from locally milled wool

If you look in my closet I can only think of 2 or three items that may qualify as sweatshop items.

These items may have been made in sweatshops, but they are our sweatshops where you can hope that the workers are treated with some respect and paid a reasonable wage.

When given a choice, i will always buy made in canada/us/EU country prodcts first. i also look for a union label.

the worst thing is that the US gov't has changed trade laws to allow manufacturers to import items duty free if they use US made fabrics and fittings in the goods.

[/soapbox]
 

Jessie-J

Cyburbian
Messages
340
Points
11
food for thought

What about the countries that these people are living in? A sweatshop by our standards could be a completely acceptable situation in another country. Why do Americans consistenly impose their own ideals on other countries? What if Nike or Gap moving to that other country boosted that local economy? If the people didn't want to work there, they wouldn't, it's that simple. If Nike or Gap weren't there, what would these people do to earn a living? Think about it from the perspective of your economy. I'm in St. Louis, and I know that when Boeing located here, it was a welcome boost to the local economy. If Anheiseur-Busch left, it would be detrimental.

Regarding the "conditions" of the working situation, many companies move out of the US because the imposed standards are too stringent and expensive. Unions cost companies money. The country may not have laws regarding sexual harassment or workers compensation insurance, but that is an American created necessity. They're new developments created by our americanized-lawsuit-happy culture. Terms of what is acceptable and what is not translate differently from culture to culture.

Just some things to think about. Try to avoid...what is it...ethnocentrism?
 

DoneGoneBlue

Member
Messages
18
Points
1
re:food for thought

So if a country is okay with slave labor, it is okay for a U.S. company to go over to those countries and abuse that labor? I agree that we, Americans, impose our standards too often and too easily on other countries, but corporations that leave their places of business or manufacturing in U.S. communities to go over to 3rd world countries (which often times happens) to use and abuse them so they can make a larger profit should be criticized or at the least examined. There is a lot that you said in your couple paragraphs that I agree with, but I just do not have sympathy for multi-billion $ companies who use cheap labor to produce their products--no matter what the norms are in those given cultures. The economy is becoming evermore global, and I think U.S. corporations need to be careful with what type of imprint they want to leave on it.
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
And what about the establishments that sell the products?

Is it coincidence that the same US blue-color shoppers saving money are the very same workers that will loose their skilled labor jobs to 3rd world countries to produce cheaper prices to keep up with their cost cutter demands?

That is one heck of nasty circle. Mmmmmmmmmm. :p
 

Jessie-J

Cyburbian
Messages
340
Points
11
Do the people who are working feel like slaves? It's all relative.

What about the consumers that are demanding affordable goods?

What about stockholders? If you owned stock, wouldn't you like to earn on your investment?
 

H

Cyburbian
Messages
2,850
Points
24
Jessie-J said:
Do the people who are working feel like slaves? It's all relative.
Most of the ones I met in South America understand that they have a “hard” life. They see TV. They watch ‘Cribs, they know they are being screwed in life.

What about the consumers that are demanding affordable goods?
That was my earlier point. It is sort of like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

What about stockholders? If you owned stock, wouldn't you like to earn on your investment?
Of course you want the companies to make a profit and your stock to go up. However, unless you are fortunate enough to own a truck load of profitable stocks, you also need a job. :)
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
29
Jessie-J said:


What about the consumers that are demanding affordable goods?

Overseas products affordable today, yes.

In the long run probably not. Consider shipping, environmental degradation and local social ills realted to underemployment.


The US's $40 billion trade deficit can be attributed to consumers purchasing on price rather than value and quality.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
24
The problem is that people want to have their cake and eat it too. People demand good wages, health insurance, retirement benefits, environmental regulation, etc (which are all good) but then they wonder why so many manuracturing jobs have moved to Mexico or elsewhere. Companies know that most Americans don't give a crap where their clothes are made, they just want them as cheap as possible. Companies also know that if they decide to stay in the USA, their competetion will have a significant advantage.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Well, since the comfortable white collar jobs are also moving overseas now, we are steadily heading towards the "Bolivian" economic model :) (No middle class, tiny elite)

Donk: I salute your conscientous buying.

As for cheaper products, it seems that any cost savings are quickly plowed into CEO salaries and marketing expenses. :) I think I read somewhere (www.troubletown.com) that Michael Johnson's fee for his Nike ads was more than the total salary of their footwear factory employees.

As for the "choice" of Third World workers. Sure, you can't deny that there is some degree of choice. The workers who end up in the directly US-owned factories may actually do ok. But, the problem is, we (US Corporations) rely on contractors whose factories have conditions that are much worse. Some are simply trapped. You've left the village behind, your new employer demands a "contract termination fee" your wages will never meet, company (or police) goons break up any attempt to form a union, and you are constantly told that there are other workers even more desperate for your jobs. I read in the New York Times this month that they are now closing some maquiladoras in Mexico because the wage differential between Mexico and, say, Vietnam, is great enough.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Re: food for thought

Jessie-J said:
What if Nike or Gap moving to that other country boosted that local economy?
I wasn't born yeterday. Nike isn't moving to Bangladesh because they want to spread the wealth. They're doing it turn a faster buck. As part of IMF strictures (loans have to be paid back in foreign currency) these countries have to attract an export industry to get foreign cash to pay off their debts. Poor countries are willing to sacrifice just about anything to attract foreign investment.

If the people didn't want to work there, they wouldn't, it's that simple. If Nike or Gap weren't there, what would these people do to earn a living?

I don't know, what were they doing to earn a living before Nike showed up? Saying that if people didn't want to work they wouldn't is like saying "they don't have to eat if they don't want to."

To give an example of an export processing zone in the Phillipines: The EPZ was set up in a poor but stable fishing village without the knowledge or consent of the people living there. When the men were out to sea the women and children were relocated, the village razed, and labor, environmental, and tax laws no longer applied to the foreign factories about to relocate there. Garment shops went up, port facilities were built, and the locals were invited back to work in the factories. The government then takes credit for for creating new jobs and putting the unemployed to work.

Zimbabwe will tell you flat out what you have to gain by opening a factory in one of their EPZs
http://www.epz.co.zw/whyinvest.html

plenty of others are quite clear as to the drawbacks of this system.
http://www.transnationale.org/pays/epz.htm
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
>By educating the workers in these plants about better condtions they can show thier managers and higher offiials what they want.<

LOL! - If workers could simply petition their managers for an improvement in working conditions or pay labor unions wouldn't exist.

Ask what the military in Brazil, the Phillipines, or Mexico thinks of striking workers?

here's a start - section 6a gets straight to the labor part but you might want to read all of it for your own sake.
http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/wha/8305.htm

in Mexico -
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/07/19/MN208828.DTL
 
Last edited:

MennoJoshua

Cyburbian
Messages
56
Points
4
Boycotting.

I don't really boycott, but I do try to buy goods made as close to home as possible. I do this for practical as well as moral reasons: an easy way to judge the quality of something is the coutry of origin.

Some examples:

- I wanted a car battery charger. I was going by AutoZone so I stopped in there. They stocked two brands. One was all Chinese. The other was all Chinese except for their $80 charger/jumpstarter which was made in Mexico. I bought that one.

- I was shopping around for a digital piano. Most models under $1000 were made in China, and I was mail ordering, so it was a pain to find this information out; I found a Roland RD-150 which was made in Italy, so I bought it.

- Three brands of spark plugs. There's not much difference between any of them and they're all the same price. China, China, and Germany. I picked Germany.

- Footswitch for my piano. Roland DP-8 is made in China; DP-6 is made in Italy (I believe it's just a rebadged General Music footswitch). I picked the DP-6, although I'm of the opinion it's probably a lesser product than the DP-8.

- Needed a heavier winter jacket than the one I had. Couldn't find anything that fit and didn't look silly at my favourite thrift stores, so I hit up Marshall's. Among those I liked, I had a choice of Pakistan, Honduras, and Mexico. I picked Mexico.

- Finally, I was with my father shopping for toasters. We didn't bother going to Wal-Mart, since it seems if any item in a category is made in China they ONLY stock items made in China. Instead, we went to our local drug store chain in Northeast Ohio (Drug Mart), which stocks a really odd assortment of things. They had a couple brands of toasters that were 4-slice. Only one was made in the U.S.A., so we bought that brand without another thought.

My rational is generally: How close are these countries to my own home? How well do they treat their workers, and how well are they paid? Mexico might not seem like a panacea but wages there are higher than in a place like Honduras. It's interesting to note that the cost to me as the consumer for many of these goods is often the same regardless of how underpaid the worker who made it was. In the case of the jackets, everything was about the same price. In the case of the toasters, the Chinese toasters cost more!

Of course, just looking at a "Hecho En" label doesn't tell the whole story of where an item came from. (I just looked at my shirt and it was made in Peru... oh well, this was bought from a thrift store, but no idea how good/bad Peru is.) It might have been spun from cotton bought at an unfair price to the farmers, or produced with boatloads of pesticides. (Nowadays I avoid buying cotton clothes anyway because I hate cotton compared to superior fabrics.) A piece of electronics equipment claiming to be made in Taiwan or the U.S.A. might be full of Chinese components on the inside. However, given my limited resources and limited choices of what to buy that's not completely made in China, I feel this is the best I can do.
 

prudence

Cyburbian
Messages
688
Points
19
Hmmm...

Here are my concerns:

1. Are my shoes comfortable?
2. Do my pants fit?

It's like the bumper sticker says, "Against Abortion? Then Don't Have One." [Keep in mind that I don't care if you are pro-choice or pro-life...that not the point.]

I don't have the time or inclination to care about who made my shoes, or my pants, or whatever. Choose to do what you do, and keep it to yourself. Moreover, don't pass judgement on others for their desicion-making. People, regardless of location or socio-economic status, make decisions they believe to best for them at that time.

Why does everything have to be right or wrong? Good or bad? Why do some people have to look for the negative in every situation. Does everything need to begin a social crusade?

F*ck. It pisses me off that there is a segment of society that looks to make a situation from everything. Let people live their lives. Worry about yourself.
 

octa girl

Member
Messages
20
Points
2
- Boycotting functions mostly as a psychological boon for an emotional reaction to a perceived injustice with little external impact. THe positive points are that your conscience is satiated by the belief that your actions are synchronized with your moral convictions - an excellent short term psychological boost. I am unconvinced that long term it actually impacts the market or communicates your moral convictions to an authoritative power.
Friends don't let friends drink starbucks coffee - but that doesn't seem to stop starbucks from popping up at every corner in every city.

For my own sanity I boycott - but with no delusion.

- As far as the justice of sweatshops - I feel that is an obvious question. Capitalizing from a person's weaker economic position is the ugliest truth of capitalism.

- what drives corporations to make this move? Consumer culture, that encourages the purchase of many goods drives the market for cheaper and more goods. When I was a child I didn't have different shoes for every function. So the question becomes, is this footwear progress or is this consumer brainwashing in the guise of footwear 'technology'?

- and for the fellow who can’t stand when people see their shoe as something more than a place to stick their foot – I suggest you reflect some on what you do have time for. Life is about magnifying the everyday to understand consequences. Granted most times we prefer to relish in the beauties of life – but some of the folks who seem focused on the ugly sides are really just trying to alleviate some ugliness so some day someone can put their shoe on and believe that it is just a foot vessel,m even upon greater reflection. As for your 'leave everyone alone' sentiment – that is just a theoretical model – we are actually interdependent beings. I couldn’t leave you alone if I tried.

- sorry for the long post - i prefer short ones myself - but i entered the board late in the game.[
 

GeogPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,433
Points
24
i used to be apalled by the sweatshop...but then one day i did come across something to the effect that we should look at our past and progression in the workplace.

we were once the land of sweatshops...it was how people got by...now look at how things evolved and changed in that industry here. unions, fair wages, shorter work days...etc. it's a progression of labor. i think it's somewhat unfair to demand that other nations to adopt our present day standards...but its not unfair to suggest that they have better conditions for workers.

...but think about that product you boycott...chances are that the only effect you will have if you are successful is that you put someone out of a job. the conditions are not going to change. the cost of labor will be undercut again by another african nation maybe in africa instead of in asia. it took a long time to get where we are in this nation for working conditions...it may take time elsewhere to. that's my spin on the Prime Directive as it relates to sweatshops. we can only interfere so much...
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
I see your point, Geogplanner, but at the same time, jresta brings up the reality. These countries don't have the "social infrastructure" to permit/encourage change. Maybe I'm wrong/racist/biased: our own history had its share of labor violence in the 19th and 20th centuries. But, there seems to be a new level of exploitation in these places-and when the local elites who benefit from this exploitation are forced to make changes, the mutlinationals just shift prodcution to the next "more desperate" country.

Capitalism is getting faster and faster, rushing quicker and quicker to the bottom. For many people in this country, where we "are now" is in fact worse then where they were 50 years ago. Unionization has declined in this country, economies are more centralized-leaving fewer opoportunities for local entrepenurship. The local bank, the :"inefficient" middle man, the local pharmacist have all been eliminated. Admittedly, there are beneifts for the "consumer." Wal MArt certainly provides more selection at lower prices than the local five-and-dime used to.

Now, with the off-shoring of the routine service industries that were supposed to replace our declining industrial base, I wonder what the average joe will be doing-starving? Robert Reich had an interesting, more positive spin on this in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. He is basically folloiwng the Richard Florida line of thinking. But, not everyone is an entrepenurial genius.

Oh well, its NYE, and I'm not even supposed to be in the ofice today :)
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
people don't flock to the city in search of work unless there is a severe crisis in the rural areas. Not being able to sell your food because your market is flooded with subsidized american grains might be one of those crises.

it seems silly to me to take people's land (or set up a system that redistributes their land) and then tell them they are unemployed and they need jobs. Give them their land/markets back and their won't be masses of rural (mexican) poor flooding to (US) cities in search of work because their system of land tenure was dismantled (under NAFTA).

"exploit - to make use of meanly or unjustly for one's own advantage"


it's not like there is any pressing need for people to pump out sneakers for $.25/hr. It's only so the profit margin is higher. You are just taking advantage of someone weaker than you to turn a quick buck. It wasn't right when it happened here (not that it ever stopped) and it's not right when it happens there.

If labor was just as free to cross borders as capital there would be no sweatshops. The reason they are able to do what they do is because they have a captive audience.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
it seems silly to me to take people's land (or set up a system that redistributes their land) and then tell them they are unemployed and they need jobs. Give them their land/markets back and their won't be masses of rural (mexican) poor flooding to (US) cities in search of work because their system of land tenure was dismantled (under NAFTA).
You make some good points in your post, but from my admittedly shallow reading of Mexican history: 1. People have been moving to cities (and coming to the north) well before the destruction of the ejido system, and 2. the ejido system didn't work very well, anyway, at creating a life with any comforts or chance of advancement at all-large families tend to dilute the land base per person.

Of course, recent studies I've seen (God, I wish I'd kept the article/study/reference) about the impact of the maquiladora on Mexican economics has been pretty negative, overall. How that study's conclusions relate to the (growing?) middle class in Mexican cities like Guadalajara and Monterrey, I don't know.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
The ejido system was flawed (it was a compromise that did not meet the demands put fwd. in the revolution) but it was something that could've been fixed . . . or at least improved.
You can't set up a communal system of anything and not include continuing education as part of it. Education on how the system is supposed to work as well as general education. If people understand that large families will cause the system to break down they can at least make the appropriate choices. (From what i hear the birthrate in mexico is starting to level off)

People from poorer places will always be attracted to wealthier places. I'm not denying that. It's one thing when the migration is voluntary and another entirely when it's forced. You also have to admit that since '92 a steady trickle has turned into a serious flood. It may not necessarily be the rural folk that are coming to the US directly but the fact that they are moving around within Mexico causes a ripple effect.

When you shift from a plantation economy to an industrial one a middle-class becomes necessary and mexico did a good job at creating one post 1917 but as you shift to a post-industrial economy that traditional middle class is not so necessary. So i wouldn't call these people in Monterrey a growing "middle-class" like you and i might consider ourselves middle-class. This is more like the definition of bourgeois - the owners of the means of production. Nouveau riche if you prefer. As far as Jose six-pack is concerned his numbers are shrinking just as they are here.

The mexican middle-class used to be strong - a result of everything won in the revolution but things were severely mismanaged (reminds of this other country . . .), debt skyrocketed and education and healthcare spending were cut to the bone (ringing any bells?). If you don't have a good school system you don't have a middle class (insert name of big american city here). Things started to fall apart in the 70's and leveled off in the 80's before getting worse again post '92. You're not going to find too many households anywhere in Mexico with purchasing power equivalent to $60k a year. There's a huge gap between $25k and less and $100k+. The people that have the entrepreneurial streak move here. The people with the education go to Spain. But the opportunities to clear out a MIDDLE class space for oneself in mexico are slim.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
I was just thinking about that "middle-class"

The "real" middle class - that portion of households that straddle the 50% mark (10% on either side)- earn an average of $42k per year.

what most people mean when they say "middle class" seems to me to mean the 75%-95% bracket

95% earn less than $150k
75% earn less than $60k
50% earn less than $44k
25% bring in less than$22k

but that's just income - throw in assets and the whole thing gets skewed even more b/c plenty of us have negative wealth (myself included).
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,890
Points
26
jresta said:

If labor was just as free to cross borders as capital there would be no sweatshops. The reason they are able to do what they do is because they have a captive audience.
i have reached a new level of enlightenment.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
There was an interesting article in the New York Times??? this past weekend about the labor movement in Indonesia. It seems that post-Suharto, the violence and legal prohibitions against organized labor have weakened. However, the company owners are now, according to this article, firing their unionized workforce and/or moving the plants to China, where independent unions are still forbidden.

I don't like his PROscriptions. But, marx's DEscriptions seem more and more prescient.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
BKM said:
There was an interesting article in the New York Times??? this past weekend about the labor movement in Indonesia. It seems that post-Suharto, the violence and legal prohibitions against organized labor have weakened. However, the company owners are now, according to this article, firing their unionized workforce and/or moving the plants to China, where independent unions are still forbidden.

I don't like his PROscriptions. But, marx's DEscriptions seem more and more prescient.
Hahaha - so much for "red" China. Unions outlawed for maximum profits!

Don't get me started on Suharto. Bush goes after some punk like Saddam for being a "brutal dictator" when Suharto easily killed 10x as many people as Saddam.

-> excellent book on the Globalization project from the Breton Woods Conference to the present. Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective by
Philip McMichael . . . he writes a lot of great stuff on the world economy.
 

The One

Cyburbian
Messages
8,289
Points
29
Battle Ready...

Jresta:

I agree about Indonesia, but, unless you and I (literal meaning) were to armor up :-c for one helluva jungle fight, we're not doing anything about it....oh, and Indonesia doesn't have as much oil.....ha ha ha..... :-D
 

The One

Cyburbian
Messages
8,289
Points
29
Earthy Clothing

DEVA Life wear (North Dakota Clothing Company) is what all planners should strive to adorn themselves with.....
 
Top