Re: Made in China

From: Chris Rasch (
Date: Tue Apr 17 2001 - 13:12:54 MDT


I think that unions serve a very important purpose by increasing the
bargaining power of individuals whose bargaining power alone is too weak
to change bad employment practices. I also admire the courage that many
union leaders have shown when forming unions.

I'm also happy to see that the AFL-CIO is beginning to call for "...the
repeal of employer sanctions, for a new amnesty for the undocumented,
and for a broad new program to educate immigrant workers about their
rights....." (
). Prior to this new
position, it struck me as odd that unions work to make it more difficult
for sweatshop workers to escape to an environment where better pay and
working conditions are available.

Brian D Williams wrote:

> Well, to each his own. I personally try to do as much of my

> business as possible as close to home as possible. I find it hard
> to live in peace if my neighbors suffer.

The median annual income in the U.S. is roughly $30,000 dollars; the
median annual world income is about $8,000 dollars. If one were
concerned about the suffering of the working poor, then wouldn't it be
better to buy from someone making $8 K/year than $30 K/year? (Assuming
that they're not working under "sweatshop" conditions.)

> Lets draw a distinction here, there is a BIG difference between
> workers producing things in various countries at various wages and
> the output of sweatshops, especially those who use child labor.

Yes, I agree. I think that you got tarred with the "jingoist" brush
because you mentioned that you wanted to start a "Made in the USA"
store. Your criteria for purchasing goods seemed to be based primarily
on the happenstance of location, rather than what would actually help
the working class the most.

It seems to me that it would help more workers improve their standard of
living if you started a "Sweatshop Free" store
that purchased goods from companies that employed workers from poor
countries, but who treated their workers well. (as, for example, The
Body Shop appears to do)

It's also unclear to me that boycotting companies who employ children
working under sweatshop conditions will necessarily improve the lot of
those children. Let's assume that the boycott is successful, and the
company goes out of business. What happens next? What do you expect
will replace the income (pittance that it was) that the child earned?

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