• Lily Z
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • United States

This conversation is closed.

Sweatshops: justified or not?

I am talking specifically about Chinese immigrant garment shops when I say sweatshops, specifically here IN American. I lot of people think that taking away sweatshops would somehow solve the problems of the people working there, but the truth is, the only thing that results is unemployment for these people. They are usually immigrant workers that don't speak the English language, they have no skills other than doing manual labor. The employers of these shops are also Chinese immigrants themselves, but they are not to blame since they are probably in the same situation as the workers, who most likely were sewing garments before they decided to start their own factory. Employers cannot afford to give higher wages or else they would give into competition and end up closing their shop anyways. So what now?


Here is a short clip of a garment shop I shot, it is in NYC. Whether or not this is a sweatshop, well I can't really say for sure, but it provides a good image of what a sweatshop would look like.

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    Nov 4 2012: Yes

    Workers work there instead of working somewhere else. Employers hire the workers instead of doing something else some where else.

    Sounds fine to me.
    • Nov 5 2012: The "employees" are often forced to work there.
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        Nov 5 2012: In the United States, I doubt it. I have heard of a few cases of slavery but I think it is the exception.

        Do you have any facts to back this up or is this your usual conjecture
        • Nov 5 2012: "In the United States, I doubt it. I have heard of a few cases of slavery but I think it is the exception."

          We're talking about SWEATSHOPS here, the people working there get paid less than minimum wage (hence the term sweatshops, in case you were thinking a sweatshop was a gym) , which is a federal offense on the part of the "employers" who are linked to organized crime.
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        Nov 5 2012: so more of the usual conjecture, the world according to john. You do realize that your opinion is not count as a fact?
        • Nov 6 2012: No Pat, you need to get a dictionary and look up the word "sweatshop". Sweatshops are real and exist in developed countries as well where they exploit (often, but not always illegal) immigrants. Read a f*cking newspaper for once.

          The US Department of Labor estimates there are thousands of sweatshops in NYC alone, plus thousands more in LA.
        • Nov 21 2012: I 100% agree with Pat, and downvote John for that little outburst

          "You can measure a man by the size of things that anger him"

          Firstly, how are they "forced" to work there? They speak little to no english, and this is their chance to make a decent living, put food on the table, shelter over their heads, care for their kids, etc.
          What's their alternative? Collecting cans/bottles from garbage bins? Welfare?
        • Nov 21 2012: Their passports are confiscated (if they have them) and the crime syndicates threaten to report people to immigrations services or use physical violence against the workers or their families (even back home). The workers get paid less than minimum wage, though often they don't get paid all, they just get food and a mattrass in the back side of the sweatshop until some "debt" has been paid off (this is a figure the syndicate makes up). Did I mention they have to work 12-16 hours per day, 7 days per week?

          But hey, don't take my word for it, ask anyone in the labor department, police force of a big city or immigrations services.
  • Nov 3 2012: I think Fritzie hit the nail on the head. They are in the United States, the must obey our laws relative to employment, OSHA, and worker rights. If the job can not be done safely, fairly, and at a profit, it should not be done. The fact that some immigrants are willing to accept less and this might be exploited by employers is unfortunate, but not tolerated by our society. It is not an either/or situation. If worker exploitation is part of the business plan it is an flawed model and should be closed.
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    Nov 3 2012: I cannot tell from the film clip very much about the working conditions. What I saw looks a lot like what workshops in the garment industry looked like in downtown LA when I was growing up, as I remember them. I had relatives involved in cutting and sewing and so forth.

    Are the employers holding to the requirements that normally govern factory work in the United States in terms of wages, hours, and working conditions?

    I can see the shop looks kind of messy, but in my recollection, shops in the garment industry, and people's sewing rooms, have a tendency to get messy with fabric and notions and such things during the work day.
    • Lily Z

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      Nov 17 2012: Well, times have changed so sweatshops cannot be compared to those from the industrial revolution, this can be a good thing I guess. I interviewed one of the female workers and she just kept referring me to the bulletin board that posted legal documents, she refused to answer most of my questions about working conditions in terms of hours, wages, etc. It wasn't until I kept pestering her that she said she earned minimum wage, which I doubt since most garments shops I have encounter actually charge their workers a piece. So a worker who is very skilled can earn over ten dollars each hour, or as little a four, maybe even less.
  • Dec 2 2012: the proper question might be is it moral for one person to profit from the suffering of another.
  • Nov 28 2012: You're asking the wrong question. Ask whether it is right or wrong for one man to profit from another man's labor. Justification here would be simple obfuscation.
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    Nov 12 2012: Sweatshop is a dark, mean and nasty, grungy delight! A group of highly disposable young people decide to throw an illegal rave in a semi-abandoned warehouse; semi-abandoned because, unknown to them, its sole resident, a giant of a man with the world's largest hammer , is still very much at home and determined to keep the noise down! And that's all there is to it!
  • Nov 3 2012: A civilized society takes care of its weakest members instead of letting them be exploited. It is not true that the sweatshop owners cannot afford higher wages, they are often part of organized crime syndicates and very rich and even if that wasn't the case then society would have to help these workers somehow, you cannot leave these incredibly hardworking people to wallow in poverty inside one of the richest nations on the planet. When there 400 billionaires and millions of multi-millionaires in your country "there is no money to help people" cannot be a valid excuse.
  • Nov 3 2012: No!
  • Nov 3 2012: Get rid of money. Sure we can. Like Henry Ford said: "Money's just a way of keeping score". We value money because it was backed up by gold (Remember gold certificates;google the Federal Reserve Bank.) Theirs not enough gold in the e3ntire planet to fund all the things we have to do, unless we manipulate the dollar value of the gold. I don't support this because it's the same old shell game. Instead why don't we try a meriotcracy. Now there's a wonderful train of thought: design a society where everyone is rewarded based on his achievents. But start from this election.
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    Nov 3 2012: The problem you describe in your scenario has a two step solution. On the given and current level, it is better for those workers to work under these conditions, as unemployment would just be worse for them. But this is no justification and only a compromise, because the main goal takes longer to achieve.

    Due to the opening of the 'global market', the competition within this market is destructive to the workers in 'high wage' countries, as their cost of labour can not compete against 'low wage' countries. Due to 'low transportatipn cost' and the loss of protective 'trade taxes' workers with 'high wages' are doomed today. And only the workers, not the companies and their beneficiaries!

    To fix this problem for the majority of the people in 'western' contries, we have to stop 'globalisation' to return back to a more healthy 'localisation'. Transportation taxes and import taxes are the tools of choice, to stabilize our economy again and to produce local jobs.

    It is a misconception that employees creates jobs, it is the consumer of the products, it is the people, who produce and maintain those jobs. Once this principle get's recognised again, it becomes obvious, that 'low wages' sweatshops are nothing but corrosive to the health of a stable economy.

    See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bBx2Y5HhplI

    Note: It seems, this TED talk is still not listed here... evil to him who evil thinks ... :o)