The Pro-Sweatshop Movement
Anti-sweatshop protests can be seen on TV, heard on the radio, and witnessed across college campuses nationwide. Many anti-sweatshop protesters boycott products produced in sweatshops, thinking that they are harming the multinational corporations or the manufacturing firms themselves. In fact, they are really harming the actual workers that they are trying to help.
Sweatshops may not be ethical, but they are a necessary evil for developing countries. Way back when the US was still in its early stages of industrialization, many workers, foreign and native, took to deplorable factories to make a living for themselves. There are factories, manufacturing plants, and distribution centers even now here in the US that can be compared to sweatshops elsewhere. I actually worked for one over the summer to try to make some money for the fall semester. It was tough, it was grueling, and it was, to me, like a sweatshop! But I worked there instead of at the local JCPenney or Wegmans because they paid more. And that is my point. Sweatshops sometimes offer a more lucrative alternative. No matter where you live, whether in the US, Mexico, or Honduras, there will be sweatshop-like establishments. The one that I worked for paid significantly more than a sweatshop in Honduras would but that's because the standards of living here are higher and everything here costs more than it does in Honduras. No one, however, seems to pay any attention to the "sweatshops" here in America.
I visited my home country at the end of summer in 2005 and I was living in the lap of luxury there. One US dollar was worth five hryvnia, or five Ukrainian dollars, there. And everything was cheap, for an American anyway. A cut and highlights for my hair that I would pay about $100 US dollars for here cost me just $15 US dollars there. A taxi ride across the city cost me only $1 to $2 dollars. So in US standards, Ukraine seems like a poor country but the...
References: Elliot, Kimberly Ann and Richard B. Freeman (2000), "White Hats or Don Quixotes? Human Rights Vigilantes in the Global Economy," NBER Conference on Emerging Labor Market Institutions.
(1997), "In Praise of Cheap Labor—Bad Jobs at Bad Wages are Better than No Jobs at All," Slate, March 20.
2. Certified hand-loomed and folklore carpet products are duty free while carpet/rugs made of man-made textile materials carries an 8% rate.
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