Picture a huge billboard with lights flashing all over. It depicts several people dressed in vibrant clothes with words writing SALE THIS WEEKEND ONLY 75% OFF THE ENTIRE STORE! Now make a complete 180 degree shift. Picture a building on the brink of collapse with sewing machines butted up against each other in rows that seem to go on forever. Imagine young women who have aged too fast sitting behind these machines working their life away. These women are slaving away making the clothes many United States companies are selling today.
Yes, the U. S. has made sweatshops illegal within its borders, but its companies are still greatly involved with them. Many companies have just outsourced their productions to foreign countries due to the outlaw of sweatshops and cheap labor in the U. S. The companies are using this manufacturing method so it is only logical that they are also partly responsible for the consequences these sweatshops cause. While the U. S. may not be housing the problem, it is supporting it by keeping these sweatshops in business.
Many United States clothing companies use sweatshops for their cheap cost of manufacturing clothes, but the alternative ways for manufacturing reap more benefits. The working conditions in sweatshops are detrimental to a person’s wellbeing. In a majority of the settings, there are safety hazards around every corner. In one instance there was only one bathroom for 100 people to share (Schilling par 6). There are simply not enough bathrooms for the number of people in the workplace.
This results in long lines that make working inefficient, not being able to use the bathroom at all, and unsanitary conditions due to the number of people using the facility. Sanitation in bathrooms is a bigger problem than one might realize. Robert J. S. Ross panned out a situation that magnified how terrible the sanitation conditions are. Ross writes, “[As you work] you have to use the toilet, but the washroom makes you nauseous and you are scared of the dark corridor and of catching some disease. The bathroom is filthy.
The boss screams if you take enough time to try to clean it yourself” (par 7). There is an unhealthy work environment because of the lack of sanitation. Numerous problems arise with it. People will refrain from taking care of their business as much as possible which is not healthy for the body. Diseases are more likely to be contracted. The overall health of all employees will take a nose dive. As mentioned before, the employees want a change but are unable to take action. This leads to yet more problems. As much as the employees are willing to help make a change, they are cut off.
They cannot advocate for themselves. If they try and band together to form a union, their job will be given to the next person in line who will just work and not fight for their rights (Schilling par 6). People have to make the decision of keeping a horrible paying job or run the risk of being fired. More often than not if they decide to fight for their rights they will lose their job. This is a problem that is happening all over. In Mexico jobs were quick to go overseas when workers unionized and demanded a reasonable wage.
China took all of their jobs because there were no unions and people were willing to work for an unreasonable wage. The only way that the Mexicans could possibly get their jobs back was to disband the unions and stop fighting for decent wages (Cumbler par 6). In reality people should not have to pay a price this high to keep their jobs. It is not ethical for humans to be treated this way and not have the right to stand up for themselves. These people are already clinging to their jobs to survive. They deserve a chance to prosper more than they are.
Not being able to stand up for themselves leads to the insane amount of hours that these people are being forced to work. Work and sleep are all these people seem to know. Schilling reports on a woman who informs him that if there is a deadline for a quota, the employees will work until it is completed no matter how long they have to stay. This could mean eleven to twelve hour days (par 6). Unfortunately, this woman is not alone in this situation. Many others have reported on similar situations. In conjunction with this, if the employee decides to not work the overtime they will be fired (Ross par 8).
There is no regard for how the employees are holding up. It is incredible how these people are treated as less than human. Some of the worst treatment of employees is taking place in China. The treatment is brought to attention when Ross reveals, “In China’s privately owned export factories they may work twenty-seven of thirty days, eleven hours a day” (par 18). These workers are worn out. There is not just a physical detriment to these hours, but also an emotional one. People will start to lose their cool and reach a breaking point.
A catalyst for this comes into play when their boss is screaming in their ear to work faster (Schilling par 6). There is a lack of respect from boss to worker. They do not view these people as their employees but rather as slaves whom they have complete control of. This emotional toll is sometimes too much to bear. Derogatory terms are thrown left and right with no regard of the effect they will have. It is hard to imagine this type of situation taking place. Schilling realized this and provides are relevant example. He writes, “Hurry up, you idiot!
Can’t you sew a straight line? You’re as clumsy as a dog” (par 5). Being compared to a dog is pretty low. A citizen in the United States would not have to think twice before reporting this kind of behavior. Unfortunately, in this situations the workers have to tolerate it. If they stand up for themselves their job is as good as gone and that is a risk that they are not willing to take. Some might argue that working a lot of hours would help these people bring in a surplus of money however, it is just the opposite. Sweatshops exist because they provide cheap sources of labor.
There are rarely ever laws in place on how companies distribute income, because most of these are located in more undeveloped countries. A legal minimum wage does not exist in these circumstances. This allows workplaces to cheat their way out of paying a reasonable salary to their employees. For instance: A 12-YEAR-OLD worker in Pakistan earns 60 cents per day stitching soccer balls that are sold for more than $10 in the United States; an Indonesian worker needs over a month’s pay to purchase a pair of shoes she makes for Nike; Mexicans employed by Alcoa must choose between buying food and paying rent (Schilling par 1).