April 13, 2015
The label or term sweatshop is commonly used when referring to a workshop or factory where the employees work for low wages, long hours, and usually under poor and dangerous conditions (Sweatshop, 2015). When researching the term “Sweatshop” I found that The United States Department of Labor classifies sweatshops as any organization that is in clear violation of two or more labor laws (2015). These laws consist of; working hours, wages, safety and disciplinary methods used, and working conditions. Due to globalization many clothing companies benefit from sweatshop labor, this paper will explore the debate of sweatshop labor and if the clothing companies who utilize sweatshop labor are engaging in unethical labor practices by doing so. Supply and Demand
Are consumers the ones who are ultimately responsible for the use of sweatshops and the exploitation of the poor? Hong Kong-based business executive Bruce Rockowitz says “yes” during an interview with The New York Times. Rockowitz said in order to improved safety at many factors, his business partners would have to charge more for the garments, says Rockowitz, the CEO of Li & Fung Limited, a well known sourcing group that work for major retailers ; Sears, JCPenney, Kohl's and Macy's that have partnerships with suppliers in under developed countries. "Consumers are just not willing to accept higher costs." This would lead us to believe that the consumer’s demands for lower prices would pressure clothing companies into utilize sweatshop labor to keep their prices down. This is not the case, while the consumer’s demands are important to any organizations research has shown that companies who do utilize sweatshop labor only save their customers’ nickels and dimes (Wilson, 2013). The percentage cost of labor in the productions of clothing can differ based on the product, location, and market (Wilson, 2013). "It can be found in different published research reports, that the cost of labor usually only counts for 1 to3 percent for a piece of clothing that’s manufactured in a sweatshop. Therefore, large gains in cost of labor will not guarantee large gains in the market price (Wilson, 2013)." With this knowledge, why do companies select to utilize sweatshop labor? The answer, Production cost, companies are able to have the product produced for a cheaper cost, which in turns means larger profits. Consumer demands do however affect a company’s business decision in many cases, fashion being one. With some many competitors in the industry to be in the running companies need to find ways to cut cost, while making a profit. This is why companies utilized sweatshop labor; they are able to cut their labor cost and are still able to produce their product. Ethical Perspective
Every company has a code of ethics that is given to each employee to sign off on when hired. These codes are created by the company to make ensure that every employee is treated equally, with respect and have their rights respected. Since ethical decision making is very helpful in the business level, companies should have ethics team who will formulate a code of ethics for workers in the sweatshops. By extending ethic training throughout every division of the company and ensuring that all vendors upholds the same standards, companies will be able to ethically conduct business in under developing countries. Companies set an ethical work environment by setting standards and making sure that all employees and vendors uphold their standards.
It is in my opinion that sweatshops are unethical and should be done away with, if changes to improve workers, working conditions are not implemented. Companies can adhere to corporate responsibility by setting standards for their company as well as any vendors they have business with. Doing this will promote the public interest by encouraging community growth and development, in...
References: David L. Wilson, "Who Really Benefits From Sweatshops?". (n.d.). Retrieved from http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2013/wilson120913.html
Log In - The New York Times. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/16/business/global/after-bangladesh-seeking-new-sources.html
Rising above sweatshops : innovative approaches to global labor challenges / edited by Laura P. Hartman, Denis G. Arnold, and Richard E. Wokutch ; forewords by Ken Block, Frank Vogl, and Norman E. Bowie. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://librarycatalog.dol.gov/client/en_US/wirtz/search/detailnonmodal/ent:$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f36$002fSD_ILS:36705/ada?qu=London%2C+Michael.&ic=true&ps=300
Which is Worse: A Sweatshop, or You? | Bleeding Heart Libertarians. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2011/06/which-is-worse-a-sweatshop-or-you/
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