Sweatshops Essay, Research Paper

The US General Accounting Office defines a sweatshop as a concern that on a regular basis

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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

and Wal-Mart

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 ;

utilizing indentured

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

serious hurt.

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

drumhead exile.

& # 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