Sweatshops Essay, Research Paper
The US General Accounting Office defines a sweatshop as a concern that on a regular basis
violates pay, kid labour, wellness and/or safety Torahs. While sweatshop maltreatments in the
garment industry have been an issue of public concern for decennaries, few people know
about the sweatshops of the flourishing electronics industry. Behind the glimmer
frontage of the high tech industry are 1000s of low-paid, largely immigrant adult females,
who assemble the nuts and bolts of our computing machines utilizing 100s of toxic
January 14, 1999
The San Francisco Chronicle
William Carlsen, Staff Writer
Thousands of Asiatic adult females are forced to work under slavery-like conditions on the U.S.
commonwealth island of Saipan doing vesture that top garment retail merchants are selling for immense
net incomes, harmonizing to a sweeping case filed yesterday in San Francisco.
In a series of suits filed in province and federal tribunal, human rights groups claim that foreign
vesture houses are go throughing off the dress as & # 8221 ; Made in the USA. & # 8221 ; Because of Saipan & # 8217 ; s
commonwealth position, retail merchants have avoided more than $ 200 million in duties.
Lawyers registering the suits yesterday described inhumane working and living conditions on the
island, including long hours of work at sub- minimal rewards, hapless airing in hotbox mills,
physical maltreatment & # 8212 ; including forced abortions & # 8212 ; and concentration-camp rat-infested life
conditions, complete with restrained barb-wire compounds.
The three suits, filed in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Saipan, name as suspects the Gap,
Nordstrom, Tommy Hilfiger, May Co. , Sears, Wal-Mart and most of the large names in vesture
and retail, every bit good as a figure of dress makers and contractors.
The class-action suits, which seek $ 1 billion in lost rewards and amendss, were brought on behalf
of 25,000 alleged & # 8221 ; guest workers, & # 8221 ; largely Asiatic adult females, and they allege misdemeanors of labour,
racketeering, human rights and concern Torahs.
& # 8221 ; To let such seamy conditions to prevail on American dirt is both obviously improper and
morally condemnable, & # 8221 ; said Al Meyerhoff, one of the lead lawyers.
Apparel companies and retail merchants contacted yesterday denied that their subcontractors violate any
Torahs. They said they have conducted reviews and would halt making concern with sellers
they believed were in misdemeanor of the jurisprudence.
Nordstrom, for illustration, said it inspected two installations in Saipan in October and did non happen
& # 8221 ; There was no cause for concern at that clip, & # 8221 ; said Brooke White, a spokeswoman for the
company. & # 8221 ; We make proclaimed and unheralded reviews and expression at working conditions,
rewards, the ages and Numberss of workers and the safety of the installations and operations. & # 8221 ;
& # 8221 ; We realize that this is in struggle with the allegations in the cases, and we are eager to acquire a
transcript of the suits so we can go on our investigation. & # 8221 ;
Rhonda West, a spokeswoman for the May Department Store Co. , said the company takes the
allegations & # 8221 ; really earnestly, and we & # 8217 ; ll look into to the full to determine the facts. & # 8221 ; But, she added, the
company insists that its providers and sellers to the full comply with applicable pay and labour Torahs.
The Gap, which is based in San Francisco, issued a statement stating the company was & # 8221 ; deeply
concerned about the allegations. & # 8221 ;
& # 8221 ; Gap Inc. does non digest this type of behavior in the mills where we do concern, & # 8221 ; the
company said, observing that it monitors & # 8221 ; conditions to guarantee that workers are treated with self-respect
and respect. & # 8221 ;
Saipan, one of concatenation of western Pacific islands known as the Northern Marianas, came under
U.S. control after World War II. In 1975, the islands gained U.S. commonwealth position.
Yesterday & # 8217 ; s legal action stems from freedoms from minimal pay and in-migration Torahs that
the islands negotiated with the United States at the clip.
In recent old ages, aware of slack Torahs and ordinances, Asian-based companies have flocked to
Saipan, the commonwealth & # 8217 ; s chief island, to put up tonss of dress mills.
Because of their commonwealth position, the islands enjoy favourable U.S. duty and responsibility
This has permitted companies in Saipan to transport their merchandises to the mainland without paying
responsibilities, harmonizing to yesterday & # 8217 ; s suits, and allows them to label the goods & # 8221 ; Made in the USA, & # 8221 ; or
& # 8221 ; Made in the Northern Mariana Islands, USA. & # 8221 ;
Lawyers stand foring the island & # 8217 ; s garment workers called Saipan & # 8221 ; America & # 8217 ; s worst sweatshop & # 8221 ;
They said 1000s of the workers, largely adult females brought from China, the Philippines,
Bangladesh and Thailand, work and live like apprenticed slaves.
Lured with the promise of high rewards and U.S. on the job conditions, they are alternatively frequently forced
to work weeklong hebdomads, 12 hours a twenty-four hours, with no overtime, sometimes without wage or at wage
below the U.S. lower limit pay, the lawyers said.
& # 8221 ; Many live in a room with up to seven other people in inward-pointing biting wire-enclosed
barracks, their motions purely supervised by guards and capable to lockdowns or curfews, & # 8221 ;
said a statement released with the cases.
Many fear exile and can non return place because they must first refund & # 8221 ; enlisting fees & # 8221 ;
of up to $ 7,000, the suits allege.
& # 8221 ; Unfortunately, apprenticed servitude is alive and good in many parts of the universe, including the
United States, & # 8221 ; said William Lerach, another lead lawyer. & # 8221 ; Companies like the Gap and
Wal-Mart have reaped 1000000s in net incomes from this strategy. Now they will be held accountable. & # 8221 ;
The suits were brought by the Union of Needletrades Industrial and Textile Employees, AFL-CIO
( UNITE ) , and three local not-for-profits, Global Exchange and the Asiatic Law Caucus, both in San
Francisco, and Sweatshop Watch of Oakland.
Sweatshop Watch Press Release
January 13, 1999
15,000 Workers Populating in Indentured Servitude While Producing Goods & # 8220 ; Made in the USA & # 8221 ;
More Than $ 1 Billion Sought & # 8212 ; Defendants Include The Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, May Company, Sears
In the first-ever effort to keep U.S. retail merchants and makers accountable for mistreatment of
workers in foreign-owned mills runing on U.S. dirt, judicial proceeding was filed today in California
and Saipan against 18 high-profile U.S. vesture makers and retail merchants, including The Gap,
Tommy Hilfiger, The Limited, J.C. Penny, May Company, Sears and Wal-Mart.
These companies are accused of go againsting federal jurisprudence by prosecuting in a & # 8220 ; racketeering confederacy & # 8221 ;
labour — preponderantly immature adult females from Asia — to bring forth vesture on the
island of Saipan. ( Saipan is portion of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Commonwealth in the
South Pacific. )
Their foreign-owned garment contractors in Saipan are besides charged with neglecting to pay overtime
and ongoing unbearable work and living conditions. In the last five old ages, contractors in Saipan
have received more than 1,000 commendations for go againsting U.S. Occupational Safety and Health
Administration ( OSHA ) criterions, many of which characterized capable of doing decease or
Two federal category action cases were filed on behalf of more than 50,000 workers from China,
the Philippines, Bangladesh and Thailand. The workers were allegedly drawn to Saipan with the
promises of high wage and quality work in the United States. Alternatively, they found themselves
working up to 12-hour yearss, seven yearss a hebdomad, frequently & # 8220 ; off the clock & # 8221 ; without having any wage or
A 3rd comrade case was filed in California province tribunal by four labour and human rights
groups ( Sweatshop Watch, Global Exchange, Asian Law Caucus, and UNITE ) . The case
accuses the retail merchants and makers of utilizing misdirecting advertisement and trafficking in & # 8220 ; hot
goods & # 8221 ; manufactured in misdemeanor of U.S. labour Torahs.
Together, the three cases are seeking more than a billion dollars in amendss, vomit of
net incomes and unpaid rewards.
& # 8220 ; To let such seamy conditions to prevail on American dirt is both obviously improper and
morally condemnable, & # 8221 ; said Al Meyerhoff, one of the lead lawyers. & # 8220 ; Saipan is America & # 8217 ; s worst
sweatshop. & # 8221 ;
Harmonizing to the cases:
* Garments made in Saipan & # 8217 ; s sweatshops may transport a & # 8220 ; Made in the USA & # 8221 ; of & # 8220 ; Made in the
Northern Marianas, USA & # 8221 ; label. American consumers are deceived into believing they have
purchased a merchandise made by American workers protected by U.S. labour Torahs, that guarantee a
nice pay and a clean, safe work topographic point.
* Last twelvemonth entirely, the federal authorities estimated that contractors and U.S. retail merchants avoided
more than $ 200 million in responsibilities for $ 1 billion worth of garments shipped from Saipan, that
would otherwise hold been paid for the same vesture if it were manufactured in China or the
Philippines. Some Chinese garment involvements have moved their fabric operations to Saipan
virtually & # 8220 ; lock, stock and barrel, & # 8221 ; in big portion, to avoid U.S. responsibilities and quota limitations. The
federal authorities estimations that this addition in Chinese dress production in Saipan has
allowed China to transcend its import quota by 250 % in 1997 entirely.
* Although Saipan & # 8217 ; s garment mills are owned preponderantly by Chinese and Korean
companies, quality-control inspectors from The Gap, The Limited, and other U.S. retail merchants
allegedly oversee the fabrication procedure. Still, they have refused to exert their power to
extenuate the unbearable working and living conditions.
* Over 90 % of garment industry occupations in the Marianas are held by foreign & # 8220 ; guest workers. & # 8221 ; These
and other foreign workers make up more than half of the estimated entire Marianas population of
70,000. This is mostly due to the Island & # 8217 ; s freedom from U.S. minimal pay and in-migration
Torahs instituted to promote local economic development. Since 1996, over 200,000 dress
industry occupations were lost in the Continental United States.
* With promises of a good occupation and a new life, workers agree to refund enlisting fees from
$ 2,000 to $ 7,000. They frequently must subscribe & # 8220 ; shadow contracts & # 8221 ; relinquishing basic human rights, including
the freedom to day of the month or marry.
* The crowded, insanitary mills and shanty-like lodging compounds are in crying misdemeanor
of federal jurisprudence. The heat in some mills is so utmost it can do workers to conk. Many live
in a room with up to seven other people in inward-pointing biting wire-enclosed barracks. Their
motions are purely supervised by guards, and are capable to lockdowns or curfews.
Ailments about the conditions are met with menaces of expiration, physical injury, and
& # 8220 ; Unfortunately, bondage and apprenticed servitude is alive and good in the many parts of the universe,
including the United States, & # 8221 ; said another lead lawyer, William S. Lerach. & # 8220 ; Companies like The
Gap and Wal-Mart have reaped 1000000s in net incomes from this strategy & # 8212 ; now they will be held
accountable. & # 8221 ;
Conditionss in the Marianas have generated a host of extremely critical studies from federal bureaus
and Congressional inadvertence. One recent study on the Marianas from the U.S. Department of the
Interior aggressively criticized & # 8220 ; the heavy and unhealthy dependance upon an apprenticed foreigner worker
plan and on trade loopholes to spread out its economy. & # 8221 ;
Garment production in Saipan continues to increase, already transcending that of Malaysia and
Jamaica. Although the legal bound on foreign garment workers is 11,000 recent estimations exceed
15,000, and more mills are being built.
The complainants are represented by a alliance of jurisprudence houses, including Milberg Weiss Bershad
Hynes & A ; Lerach LLP & # 8212 ; category action specializers with chief offices in New York and San
Diego. The house has successfully litigated legion consumer cases against such companies
as R.J. Reynolds ( & # 8221 ; the Joe Camel & # 8221 ; instance ) , Prudential Insurance ( for life insurance fraud ) and
Lincoln Savings ( for victimizing depositors ) .
Most late, the house negotiated a $ 1.2 billion colony from Swiss Bankss as reimbursement
to lasting households and victims of the Holocaust. They are presently seeking compensation for
Holocaust victims forced to work every bit slave labourers in mills.
Shell Shocked: A Project Underground Report on
Ogoni Refugees in Benin
Average cost in U.S. dollars to the United Nations of caring for a refugee: 11 cents per twenty-four hours
Royal Dutch Shell & # 8217 ; s projected cost nest eggs from 1998 restructuring: 2.5 billion dollars
& # 8220 ; It is a strain to be a refugee. Cipher would wish to be a refugee. Myself, it is until I came to this
topographic point that I knew the proper definition of refugee. Before when I heard about refugees, I thought
that they were the lowest category of people on Earth. And that thought seems to? be the true
premise. They don & # 8217 ; Ts have anything to make on Earth. You are turned into being a street mendicant. I
did non cognize that fortunes could cut down you to be a mendicant. I did non cognize. Now I do. & # 8221 ;
Gaston, Ogoni refugee, age 29
This is a study about Ogoni refugees. The Ogoni are a minority cultural group of 500,000 people