Do you know where your clothes are coming from? You’ve seen the stories on the news about millions of toys being recalled because they are made in unsafe conditions overseas. Many of your clothes and t-shirts are being manufactured by men, women, and children working in deplorable conditions for little pay.
You can help stop this trend of sweatshop labor! Join the consumer movement to buy clothing made under fair labor conditions. Anti-sweatshop organizations are joining together to help keep you informed.
You can start helping by looking for t-shirt makers who use workers in the United States. Also, look for businesses who allow their workers around the world to organize into labor unions or worker-owned cooperatives. These groups are working towards safe and healthy working conditions, wages and benefits that can support their families’ basic needs, respectful treatment and the freedom to participate in workplace policy making.
You might pay a few bucks more for a shirt. But, many say it’s worth it. It’s a tough life for clothing workers in these poor countries. They work in uncomfortable conditions with no job security. Factories often close shop and move in search of lower labor costs and easier working regulations. Competition to sell cheap clothes to U.S. consumers means wages and working conditions around the world go down.
When it comes to making t-shirts, labor laws around the world are poorly enforced. The International Labor Organization (ILO) created standards but there are not nearly enough inspectors to examine facilities. Most workers do not even know where to go for help. Cheap labor is attractive to foreign investors and corporations. Often companies based in the west, cash in on the availability of workers used to working for low wages without benefits. Typically, these foreign plants are not up to the standards of those in the United States. That often means the buildings do not meet U.S. codes, workers do not have U.S. labor laws around age and work time to protect them and unionizing is almost unheard of.
Luckily we offer American Apparel’s “sweatshop free t-shirts.”