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Research paper topic: Everyone Has The Right To Work, To Free Choice Of - 1033 words
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.. est problems facing sweatshop workers is the conditions under which they must work. Sweatshops vary in their conditions. One thing is certain though, on a scale the best conditions start at bad and the worst are judged as terrible. There is no bright spot to the scale.
But according to the definition, (a workplace where workers are exploited in their wages or benefits and are subject to poor working conditions), the conditions are, by most accounts, hazardous and unsanitary. Typical conditions include sweltering heat and crowded working environments. In addition, in some cases there are not many fire escapes, water fountains, restrooms and other which are necessary to building codes. To avoid making any generalizations I will give you several examples of places where conditions are in desperate need of improvement. Olivia Given, a reporter of the Feminist Organization, spent the summer of 1997 researching sweatshops.
Given even went so far as to actually work there as part of her research. Of the conditions she said, Our guides told us about the hours they had worked in sweatshops: 7 days a week, from 7AM to 10PM each day, with a half hour for lunch and one 10 minute afternoon break. . .Our guides said that during the week each room would be filled to capacity. There was no air conditioning. Open windows allowed the stale air in the workrooms and narrow halls to circulate and even let in a fresh breeze every once in a while.
. . None of the workers would speak unless spoken to. Punishments for speaking during working hours, one of our guides told us, could range from physical punishment to firing. .
. we distributed leaflets about workers' rights on street corners all over the garment district, one worker refused to take a flyer, pointing out that his boss was watching from a few feet away. (2) Conditions such as these are terribly unfair. Not only is the worker forced to bear through hazardous conditions,such as the heat and the intimidation of losing their job, but when Given tried to hand out leaflets informing the workers of their rights, the fear of the boss made them wary. On top of all of that, the conditions they work in are so bad that they can be sometimes deadly.
Perhaps the most well known case of sweat shop fatalities occurred on March 26, 1911 in New York. This is the infamous Triangle Fired. A fire was sparked in this building but conditions didn't allow fire escapes so many workers, 141 to be exact, either burned or leaped to their death. If there had been proper fire escapes then many more could have survived. In addition, all the doors of the building opened only from the outside, that is, they opened inward.
With these doors, no one was able to escape. This lapse in architectural judgement turned out to be a fatal one. Taking all these facts into account, raises one question: What is being done to help the workers? We as individuals can give a hand and put an end to current sweatshop working conditions. One of the most widespread actions being taken to protest sweatshops is a boycott. Many organizations such as NCL, Corporate Watch and The Bangor Clean Clothes Campaign are urging consumers not to buy products from clothing manufacturers such as Nike, Wal-Mart, Guess, and The Gap.
According to a member, Dan Wisons, "These are the worst offenders. They make billions of dollars a year at the hands of people whom they treat like dirt. ("Industry Leader" 3)." You too can join the campaign and take a step toward ending sweatshops. Another thing individuals can do is to write to companies in protest. You can send a letter or email the aforementioned companies and voice your opinion about their means of labor. In addition, college students are also pulling together to end sweatshops. The United Students Against Sweatshops is an international student movement that involves individual students from campuses all over America and Canada fighting for sweatshop free labor conditions and workers' rights.
The USAS believe that university standards should be in line with its students. The students demand that clothing having the school's logo should be made in places where decent working conditions exist. In an article describing their cause, entitled "About us," the USAS also goes on to say, "Ultimately, we are using our power as students to affect the larger industry that thrives on sweatshops (1)." Furthermore, other organizations are also lending a hand to help the cause to end sweatshop conditions. One organization, UNITE, is helping workers form unions to get the fair labor conditions they deserve. Making their own union, UNITE already has over 500 members who are fighting for better wages, decent conditions and other rights.
Other action that is being taken to combat the injustice, is at a government level. Last year Governor Gray Davis signed into law Assembly Bill 633. The purpose of this bill was to crack down on sweatshop abuses in California. This bill imposed a "wage guarantee" which provided workers minimum wage and overtime, it also, "Establishes successor employer liability so that garment factories cannot shut down and reopen under a different name to avoid paying the wages of its former employees ("USA" 2)." Lastly, it allows garment workers employed by non registered contractors to take them to court over lost wages, damages and penalties. When one considers the injustice the sweatshop worker deals with at the hands of corporate America, one cannot wonder how such actions are allowed. Where is the Declaration of Human Rights? This document declares rights to all humans.
But somehow sweatshop workers are overlooked? They are human beings too. Something must be done to end this parade of abuse. Some action must be taken to mend the wounds of the worker. Works Cited 1. "About Us." United Students Against Sweatshops.
8, May 2000. . 2. Green, Olivia. "Inside A Sweatshop: An Eyewitness Account." 24 March 2000, 3.
Henderson, Hazel. "Interview With An Economist." Knowledge Management Magazine. January 28, 2000. 25 March 2000. @www.kmmag.com. 4."How Do You Survive On 31 Cents-an-Hour Wages?" National Labor Council.
24 March 2000 5. "Phillips-Van Heusen: An Industry 'Leader' Unveiled." Clean Clothes Campaign. 24 March 2000. 6. "USA: California Senate Passes Anti-Sweatshop Bill, Awaits Govornor's Signature" Corporate Watch September 9, 1999.
March 24, 2000. 7. "What is UNITE doing?." U.N.I.T.E. 8 May, 2000 .
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