Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Nudity Is Still An Option

Time to go to the Journeyman Pictures well again. Among their most recent offerings is a report from ABC Australia's program Four Corners. I don't know how long it's been since you got a good look at footage out of a sweatshop, but I wager there are some of you out there that haven't in a while if at all. So here is a 45-minute report on conditions in sweatshop-industry mainstay Bangladesh.

Do mind the warning at the outset warning about disturbing imagery.

Don't get too cocky about it being Bangladesh, though. As recently as last year, fashion designer Alexander Wang was hit with a lawsuit from a worker at his factory in New York alleging sweatshop conditions (the lawsuit was dismissed after an undisclosed settlement). But you don't have to go looking for headline stories to find them. The Government Accountability Office defines a sweatshop as any workplace that violates both of the following:

A) Health and/or safety laws.
B) Wage and/or child labor laws.

The Department of Labor made a major domestic crackdown on the practice in the 1990's, with one of the major headlines going to a sweatshop in Los Angeles employing Thai immigrants. After that, most sweatshops migrated overseas where there are fewer labor laws, but they do still exist in America. Immigrants, legal or not, are the usual targets of sweatshops in the US. They're new to the country, they don't know anyone, they have the fewest connections, they don't know the laws, they'll take any job to get themselves on their feet, they don't know who to trust but need to trust someone, which all makes them easy to exploit. It will usually be the fashion industry doing it, and most often it will be taking place in major ports of entry like New York or Los Angeles.

So it may be worth thinking twice before getting excited about that Made In The USA label.

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