Clothing companies change their suppliers constantly, so it is difficult to know exactly if the shirt you are wearing was made by a 7 year old in Uzbekistan.
Forced labor, minimum wage violations, maternity leave violations, lack of overtime pay, no healthcare, right to form independent unions denied, no bathroom breaks. These are only a few of the condition that exist in sweatshops.
Here’s 2010’s hall of shame in pdf format.
Sweatshops are commonplace in the USA. “Sweatshops are continuously being discovered all over the world. In the U.S., these conditions exist in many low wage industries that employ immigrants, such as the garment industry. Recent studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor found that 67% of Los Angeles garment factories and 63% of New York garment factories violate minimum wage and overtime laws. Ninety-eight percent of Los Angeles garment factories have workplace health and safety problems serious enough to lead to severe injuries or death. “
Read more on this ^ here.
It could also be argued that if these unsafe, abusive sweatshops were not available then the people would have to turn to prostitution. The same could have been said many decades ago regarding xicanos and other minorities forming working unions to defend their rights, regarding black slaves, regarding revolution. Human rights, fair wages, a safe working environment, non-exploitation of children that should be studying and playing, not sewing my jeans.
Here’s a FAQ on how we as consumers can make a difference, what progress has this movement made so far, and how we even have sweatshop in the US.
Little by little, even if it’s one sweater you buy instead of 2, let’s vote with our money. Buying local is also an answer. 2nd hand stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army and Savers really help out and save you money [plus, you get really cool and unique items at the price of sticking it to the man!]. Antique and consignment stores. Buying handmade from Etsy.com is another. I for one know it’s going to be difficult for my wallet but i’m sure it’s more difficult for others out there.