Sweatshop In Queens Produced Clothes For Macy's, the Gap, Banana Republic, Urban Apparel, and Victoria's Secret

New York state labor officials are bringing one of their largest cases ever against Jin Shun, a clothing factory in Queens, New York that employed Chinese immigrants. Inspectors say the company

  • cheated its workers out of more than $5 million in pay;
  • instructed workers to lie to state inspectors;
  • required 6 and 7-day workweeks, sometimes for up to 120 days at a time;
  • didn’t pay overtime or minimum wage;
  • kept two sets of timecards to fake-out inspectors.

Macy’s says they’re “very concerned” about the case and are investigating it, the Gap says they’re cooperating with authorities, and Victoria’s Secret says they have a “zero tolerance policy” for factories that are unwilling to work with them to achieve compliance—all of which makes us wonder whether any of these companies ever investigated the factory personally. (It’s not like it was in some remote part of China.)

Urban Apparel, which apparently faced a large inventory issue, took more practical steps:

The Labor Department announced that on Wednesday morning it placed special tags on more than 10,000 items of Jin Shun’s apparel, stating that the garments were produced under unlawful conditions.

Within hours of that tagging, the clothing company Urban Apparel paid state officials $60,000 to have the tags removed. The money covered the amount of wage violations that the department found had occurred when employees were making the tagged garments.

The factory, which was previously named Venture 47 and has recently been renamed Garlee NY, was quite blatant about lying to inspectors:

State officials said that the instructions given to employees, written in English and Mandarin, told them that if government inspectors ever asked them how many hours they worked each week, they were to respond, “Not sure, depends on the workload.”

The instructions told the workers that if inspectors asked how much they earned, they should respond, “I don’t remember, because sometimes I work more hours and sometimes less.”

The instruction sheet told the workers that if they were asked, “What is your hourly wage?” they were to answer, “Not sure, but always over $7.75 depending on the job complexity.” Even though the workers were paid at a fixed rate per piece of work performed and partly in cash, they were told to answer that they were always paid by the hour and through direct deposit.

You may be wondering how you can enforce your own anti-sweatshop policy when shopping, but of course without strict oversight from the big apparel companies, you’re not left with many choices. One thing you can do is try to shop from companies that have taken a strong anti-sweatshop stance, such as American Apparel, or from companies like Busted Tees that use American Apparel shirts. Other than that, you have to rely on “made in ___” labels—Dana Thomas from Newsweek tells NPR that in general, U.S. labeling laws are far stricter than European and can be trusted more, but the Queens factory proves that’s not always the case. You can also demand stronger oversight from officials and apparel companies—although how you “demand” such a thing is a rather good question.

“Apparel Factory Workers Were Cheated, State Says “ [New York Times]
(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. Hanke says:

    You can take the slavetraders out of the old world…

  2. wattznext says:

    I live in Astoria, Queens…i wonder where exactly in Queens this was located.

  3. Quatre707 says:

    Who cares about the cheated illegal immigrants, they probably through it was a good deal compared to their opportunities in their home country.
    What we should be concerned about is all those unpaid taxes.

  4. homerjay says:

    Cool! I didn’t know my clothes were made in the good ol’ USA!

  5. SpdRacer says:

    Isn’t that “Urban Apparel” line a Wal-Mart one?

  6. Skankingmike says:

    Urban Sweat Shop apparel, we pay the workers less and pass those savings along to you!!!

  7. mike says:

    Another way to avoid the sweatshop issue is to shop second-hand. That way, you pay the charitable organization and not the corporation. You save a few bucks too.

  8. snowburnt says:

    If only American Apparel made clothes that people this decade wear…and isn’t it required that you sleep with the Gallagher looking CEO in order to work there?

  9. nutrigm says:

    Think again next time it says “Made in USA”!

  10. blue_duck says:

    MADE IN THE USA*

    *Clothing may have been made by underaged, illegal Chinese immigrants. What does that mean for you? SAVE SAVE SAVE!!!**

    **Oh wait, no it doesn’t… Most of these brands are super expensive.

  11. Hanke says:

    @Quatre707: It’s the same in their country.

  12. EllaMcWho says:

    Is it wrong that I imagined/heard the various accents upon reading the company’s proscribed responses to inspectors’ potential questions? In terms of avoiding sweatshops, generally, buying any garment under 30 dollars (other than a basic T or tank) means someone is not getting paid – and you can be sure that the retailer, marketers and distributers are getting theirs.

  13. MissTicklebritches says:

    American Apparel: not made with sweatshop labor, but huge problems with sexual harassment and hostile environment for female employees.

  14. goodcow says:

    I bet John Liu owns the factory.

  15. dangermike says:

    I can’t really fault the stores that carry the items made in this factory. They saw “Made in America” and a low price and knew it would be win-win for them. There’s no incentive for a store chain to deeply investigate the operations of the producers of their items beyond making sure that the items are fit to sell and that the factory can fill their orders in a timely, efficient manner. So suppose someone from Macy’s or Victoria’s Secret were to discover and report the activities of the factory; what’s the outcome? They pay more and their customers pay more. Other vendors might charge more to do business with them if they know they too might get caught with their pants down. Even if they were to discover the factory’s transgressions, their best course of action is to keep quiet, enjoy the low prices while they can, and if the ax gets dropped on the factory, issue a statement saying they’re appalled and come out smelling like a rose. That is exactly why inspections of this sort fall on the government.

  16. Tmoney02 says:

    but of course without strict oversight from the big apparel companies,

    Why should the apparel companies have to personally inspect the American plants they buy clothes from? Shouldn’t the companies expect any American plants to be following American labor laws?

  17. InThrees says:

    I don’t understand this. How can “we’ll make x shirts of this style every week for y dollars” not raise red flags with these companies? How can these companies not know when their supplier is offering a deal that is too good to be true?

    I’m not insisting that these retailers knew because I recognize that I’m not familiar enough with the industry to really make an informed decision, but I do assume that THEY are familiar enough with it to recognize when something shady may be going on with their suppliers.

  18. Dabigkid says:

    Hey man, if those workers were silly/desperate enough to accept the job, more… err, less power to them.

    I don’t know about you guys, but I’m all for supporting sweatshops. People in China need jobs, too, and I love paying the same price for goods that were cheaply made.

  19. @Quatre707

    Nowhere in the article did it mention that the Chinese Immigrants were illegal. You sir/madam should RTA, and not jump to conclusions.

    These people (or at least some of them) are here legally,and as such deserve much better treatment than this!

  20. Also … to take advantage of Illegals in this way would be despicable. People are people. I didn’t mean to raise “Legal” people to a higher standard … but it came out that way.

  21. blue_duck says:

    @Tmoney02: They should know, however, that what one expects is not necessarily what actually happens. I think if they are buying from somebody, they should do at least a little research regarding labor laws.

  22. Robobot says:

    [knowmore.org] is a terrific resource if you are interested in learning more about the worker’s rights activities of specific companies. They tackle other issues too, such as business ethics, environmental concerns, and political influences.

    The American Apparel section on their website offers some particularly interesting reading.

  23. Tmoney02 says:

    @blue_duck: My point is why do we expect apparel companies to police American plants? Do we expect GM to send people to personally inspect every American part supplier?

  24. The fact that these workers found this to be acceptable – illustrates how tough the job market REALLY is for the unskilled who are not fluent in English.

    Even with these harsh conditions and small pay – they may perceive this as being the only way to support themselves and their families in the competitive New York job market.

    Perhaps the owners are struggling to compete with the overseas markets and high taxes associated with the dwindling manufacturing options in the city.

    In the current economy, consumers may also have less income for fashion and will probably be more price conscious – thus adding more concerns for wholesalers and retailers to be price-competitive – thus forcing more efficiency from the manufacturers.

    We see many of those workers waiting for unmarked vans to take them to work in the mornings.

    You can see why they are instilling education and academic success into their children to avoid what they are going through…
    [www.latimes.com]

  25. Talk about double standards. If the sweatshop is overseas, somehow that makes it okay.

  26. k6richar says:

    @Quatre707: Nothing says they where illegal immigrants. Even if they are, that does excuse the company for treating them in this manner. If any of those workers knew his/her rights there would have been a huge lawsuit long ago. I wonder how many immigrants do know their rights when they enter your country.

  27. wattznext says:

    @Chris Walters: Thanks! That’s crazy close to where i live! Maybe I’ll stop by with bolt cutters and free the workers from their shackles!

  28. blue_duck says:

    @Tmoney02: I’m not saying full out policing, just maybe even a spot check here and there. It’s obvious no one else is really on top of it.

  29. perruptor says:

    @Tmoney02: Do we expect GM to send people to personally inspect every American part supplier?

    You don’t think they do? Not for compliance to labor laws, but for quality control, they almost certainly do inspect every vendor. If the garment companies don’t do that, they’re doubly foolish.

  30. Tmoney02 says:

    @perruptor: Which proves my point, We don’t expect GM to police labor laws so why do we expect something different from apparel companies?

    I’m sure they also inspect the clothes for quality control but you don’t need to go to a plant to do that, same with GM. GM says supply us with X amounts of parts with a tolerance of Y being defective for Z price. Failure to do results in them do business with someone else or more usually just threatening to do so will make a company clean up their act. Inspection for labor laws never come into effect, because it is expected that the government is policing this.

  31. unpolloloco says:

    Why did the people in that sweatshop continue to work there? Walmart hires at well above minimum wage. Usually, sweatshops in 3rd world countries pay better than everything else around them, so people want to work there. Here, it’s not the case….

  32. Veeber says:

    @Quatre707: The article never mentions anything about illegal immigrants. They were mostly Chinese immigrants, but it says nothing, PERIOD, about illegal laborers.

  33. econobiker says:

    @Veeber: The inference is that only illegal immigrants would work for “cash only” and endure these conditions and low pay.

    That said, if amnesty is granted for illegal immigrants, then the floodgates of wage lawsuits will open up. This is one thing the business owners do not realize…

  34. Veeber says:

    @unpolloloco: Sometimes people honestly don’t know any better. You’re looking at a population which probably has poor english language skills and also come from a culture where you place significant trust in your relationship to others.

    My mother-in-law just found out that her tax accountant hadn’t been including her name on the tax returns (their self-employeed) so she hasn’t been getting consistent credit for her social security wages. The only reason we found out was because I was helping my father-in-law file for his SSI benefits and noticed her name was missing on the older tax returns.

  35. Veeber says:

    @econobiker: Actually a lot of Chinese immigrants would work for cash. Things like credit cards and banks are not common in China and culturally they aren’t trusted. When my grandmother passed away we found over $50,000 hidden throughout her apartment. They wouldn’t necessarily associate being paid in cash with an illegal transaction.

  36. ironchef says:

    @goodcow: WTF with John Liu comment? I know John, btw. And that is way out of line.

  37. JudgeCrater says:

    Labor Commissioner Smith used this press conference to get publicity, publicity she needs to protect her job and the high paid patronage jobs she has given out to her former co-workers at Attorney General’s Spitzer’s office, where she was in charge of the Labor Bureau. (These patronage jobs mean a lot to Smith’s lawyer friends, they can’t get jobs now that Governor Spitzer is gone).

    When she was chief of the Labor Bureau from 1999-2006, she knew that the New York State Department of Labor had given up on enforcing the minimum wage outside the garment industry, but Smith did nothing. For publicity, she went after the Korean greengrocers who were underpaying off the book Mexican nationals, but that was about it. Underpaid workers in restaurant kitchens and sweatshop supermarkets did not get any help from her.

    Labor Standards, which enforced minimum wage and overtime laws, had between two and three field investigators handling minimum wage complaints for all of New York City outside the garment industry. That policy started in 1995, after someone (probably State Senator Velella) fixed the Xtra Supermarket case, where a $1.6 million dollar underpayment was somehow reduced to $400,000, a totally illegal reduction.

    The Chief who signed off on that reduction, Manuel Fruchter, led a charmed life afterward. His major goals was finding ways, usually bogus, to not accept walk-in complaints and breaking his high freecell score. Mail-in complaints were not a concern; they were usually buried in file drawers, never to see the light of day.

    Some 200 employees of seven store Xtra chain were found to be working 12 hour days, six days a week for from $175 to 300 a week. Xtra fired every supermarket manager who cooperated with Labor Standards. The case was never sent to prosecution, because Labor Standards stopped criminal action after John Sweeney became Commissioner of Labor for Pataki in 1995.

    When Smith was in charge of the Labor Bureau, she never questioned why there were zero criminal prosecutions statewide when she came in. Nor did she wonder why Labor Standards ordered its investigation staff not to interview employees on field visits, to just drop a note requesting payroll records for the complainant only.

    The State Minimum Wage is a statute that covers almost all manual workers, yet Labor Standards investigated for the complainant only, ignoring all other underpaid workers. That policy continued to be in force until 2005, when a new Labor Standards director changed the policy (someone whom Smith fired in 2007 and replaced with the assistant director, a guy who had enforced the previous illegal policy of limiting minimum wage investigations to the complainant only).

    If possible, the situation with claims for unpaid wages and benefits like vacation pay was even worse. The supervisor in charge of the wage claim unit, Tom Malloy, barred any field investigation of wage claims. The procedure was to send out a collection letter asking for the claimed amount, one phone call and, one year later, prepare the case for civil judgment. Who needs investigations?

    Naturally, Malloy got promoted to Chief Investigator, money, his salary, for doing nothing. His replacement in the wage claim unit considered her major job to be to find some excuse to be out of her office by the entrance door at 9:00 AM, to monitor employees coming in to work, a human time clock. Then she returned to her office and did nothing productive the rest of the day, her work was done.

    Where the NYSDOL shines is firing people who do the job right, or forcing them out by creating a hostile work environment. Denis Peterson, who was the executive deputy for worker protection in 1995, asked about the Xtra supermarket case at an executive meeting. Quicker than you can say “The Fix is IN!” Labor Commissioner Sweeney fired him.

    At the NYSDOL, the fix is still in.

  38. pollyannacowgirl says:

    The only thing that surprises me about this story is that this operation manages to survive inside New York City limits. If the factory is renting its space, it’s probably going to move soon. LIC is turning residential.

    And American Apparel is WAY over-priced. And their ads make me queasy.

  39. JudgeCrater says:

    You are right, John Liu sticks to getting payoffs from real estate developers, especially those who have their eyes on stealing Willets Point from the peoperty owners there.

  40. Shadowman615 says:

    @econobiker: Well, I don’t feel bad for any businesses who would be subject to wage lawsuits if amnesty were granted. They should have considered that when they decided to hire and underpay illegals.

    ******

    So Urban Apparel just paid $60K in fines? That does absolutely nothing to help the actual victims. I seriously doubt any of that money is meant to go to the workers who are owed it.

  41. dweebster says:

    This is great news – finally business here is catching up with third world countries that have been kicking our asses.

    Soon we’ll have our children out of school and stripping electronic equipment for the lead and living in dumps. We CAN BE a global competitor – thanks, GAP, for leading the way on our quest to become a world leader once again.

    “Baby GAP” will soon have a different connotation.

  42. dweebster says:

    @Shadowman615: But $60k will buy some very nice coke for the attorneys!

  43. jumbo pongo says:

    Looks like they are taking it seriously!

  44. meg9 says:

    It’s about time for someone to work on this, aren’t these the workshops you can see when you ride the subway? My sister used to point them out to me—you could look in the windows and everything. If my sister knew that they were there, law enforcement must have known YEARS ago.

  45. queenofdenial says:

    @k6richar: I think you mean: Even if they are, that does NOT excuse the company for treating them in this manner.

  46. joebloe says:

    It likely they were illegals or working for cash or purposedly wanting that low wage in order to keep their government benefits. This article coming from the NYT rag, they’ll never tell you the truth. We’ll never know the truth.

  47. bria says:

    It’s pretty funny that you recommended American Apparel… Jezebel has been covering all of the sexual harrassment suits filed against the founder, Dov Charney. He seems like a despicable man.

  48. Nytmare says:

    @joebloe: This comment coming from joebloe, he never tells the truth; he has no credibility.

  49. Mistrez_Mish says:

    @wattznext: Probably in or around Flushing, Queens. I used to live there. That area has a huge Mandarin-speaking population and it certainly wouldn’t be the first sketchy thing happening in the neighborhood. There was a similar problem with a knock-off designer shoe warehouse there (and other accessories… mostly shoes). Top it off with illegal underground gambling dens and you have a pretty likely match.

  50. Mistrez_Mish says:

    to add to my last comment:

    You might be surprised to find out how prevalent these slave-driver, unlivable wage factories are in the U.S. Especially in large cities, such as my own NYC. Hop on over to Manhattan’s Chinatown and you’ll find a bunch of people (mostly women) who work in these places. My husband’s mother worked in one when she first came over from China. They treat their employees like crap, pay them little to nothing, harass and abuse them… The working conditions are horrible: no air conditioning in the summer – employees often bring little portable fans, no heat in the winter, chemicals and dust flying around everywhere (employees typically bring in or make their own dust masks – not provided), windows painted or rusted shut, fire escapes blocked, no light in stair wells. The owners and workshop managers even train the employees to lie to inspectors whenever they come around!

    The government knows about this stuff too and it pisses me right off because it has been going on for decades – barely anything is being done! If this article is about a factory in Flushing, it makes sense that they did a crack down there. So much development is going on right now: a new Shea, tons of condos going up, etc – it’s not something that they want to see over there – it would tarnish the neighborhood (now pretty middle class).

  51. Mistrez_Mish says:

    @Chris Walters: Thank you! So, it’s L.I.C. I went off on my angry tangent before reading your comment. Still, I’m not surprised and duly infuriated.

  52. azntg says:

    @Chris Walters: That would conveniently answer why I would see rather tired looking, mostly middle aged Chinese women getting off at 33rd Street on the 7 train every morning.

    Figured there was a factory/sweatshop nearby. Strongly doubted those people were leaving to go to LaGuardia Community College.

    @Public Relations: That’s correct. There’s also a cultural aspect to this issue. Needless to say, standing up and revolting against horrible working conditions are frowned upon.

  53. bohemian says:

    The apparel companies might have known something was up if the price was too low. But the manufacturer might have been charging a typical going rate for US manufacturing and pocketing the difference.

    The only way clothing companies will become more proactive about labor conditions is if we find a way to make it bad for business for them not to or if they all start running their own sewing factories. This used to be how it was done, an apparel company ran their own factories thus had full oversight of conditions. Contract sewing allows all these bad things to happen.

  54. ELC says:

    Just a note on the picture. That picture does NOT denote a sweatshop. My dad was a manager at a shirt factory in TN for his entire career, and portions of the plant look like that. It is the most efficient use of space for arranging the sewing machines, etc. It is a factory after all. By the way, that plant, like most others in this country involved in textiles, is now closed.

  55. @bria: I thought about pointing out all of Jezebel’s stories about American Apparel’s awful owner, the stores’ awful employees, and the frequently awful advertising–but one thing the company gets right is fair wages for its factory workers, and since that’s all this post is about, I decided to leave out the other stuff.

    But yeah, American Apparel is kind of gross in many other ways.

  56. alfundo says:

    @postnocomments:

    not exactly, if the sweatshop is overseas in one of our approved “tax free zones”….then it is OK

  57. heycorey says:

    They’re … taking our jobs?

  58. RabbitDinner says:

    @heycorey: “Quick, there’s an American-let’s take his job!”

    [www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net]

  59. thelushie says:

    @SpdRacer: Alright, I won a $20 bet! I showed this to a friend of mine and bet him $20 that someone would mention Walmart (because after all, ALL of their stuff is made in China, ya know) despite this thread having nothing to do with them.

    No, that is not a walmart brand, to answer your question.

  60. RabbitDinner says:

    And this is tangentially related-WTF do you call a brand Banana Republic? Wasn’t there someone in marketing/legal to catch that? I’m all for truth in advertising-Jackass named after it’s target audience as Maddox so eloquently put it, but I have trouble figuring out what the idea is here. Is it a nod to where the clothing is sometimes made? Did it originate in Florida and get named after the target demographic? Wtf

  61. thelushie says:

    @Chris Walters: Chris, actually when buying from a company you do have to look at all aspects of it. Just because they give fair wages doesn’t mean their employees are not abused in other ways. I think having a boss who exposes themself to you (and that is the least of what he has done) is pretty abusive too. Now many will say that those women took that job KNOWING what they were in for. It can also be said that those workers took that job KNOWING what they would be in for. IT is not right in either case. And just because it is part of the corporate culture or whatnot doesn’t make it legal. So that “Well they knew.” or “They should have known” is a really bad arguement to make.

    What I love about this is there are people who are going to be up in arms about the treatment of the workers but will go buy American Apparel stuff never mind the treatment of his workers.

    (Chris, only part of that dealt with what you said. I got on a roll about something I care about. Sorry.)

  62. thelushie says:

    @RabbitDinner: It is to give an overall feel to the clothing, tropical, carefree, fun-loving.

  63. RabbitDinner says:

    @thelushie: Funny, the Nicaraguans I know disagree with that characterization.

  64. iMe2 says:

    Ah, the little-discussed but time-honored tradition in textiles of in-sourcing cheap foreign labor. Not at all surprised this happened in New York. In Texas they might not have gotten caught.

  65. Breach says:

    My ass they are investigating it, how do you think they profit off of the 10000% markup on their clothes

  66. thelushie says:

    @RabbitDinner: Hey, I didn’t say I agree with it but I think that is what the marketers had in mind. I think when most people think of tropical, they think of toes in the sand in the Bahamas.

  67. RabbitDinner says:

    I didn’t mean to sound critical of you, but I am surprised at the use of a pejorative term as a brand name. If you were to rename some local stores “Shini Paradise” it would certainly be an apt name but a little offensive

  68. thelushie says:

    Oh, I didn’t think you sounded critical at all. Actually I think you made a good point. It is all very subjective and someone who was (or is) been subjected to oppression would see a name like that as offensive. They are trying to cater to the typical narrow-minded American buyer.

  69. oldheathen says:

    Amazing how these gross abuses get “overlooked” for so long again and again – even by high-end retailers who could well afford the occasional surprise visit to the factories with which they contract.

    I used to naively think that immigrants charged with supervising other immigrants would have some empathy for their employees (strangers in a strange land and all that), but a Mexican friend recently told me that people of her ethnicity get by far the harshest abuse from foremen and managers who are also Mexican immigrants. Something to the effect of “give them the smallest amount of power” over their own countrymen and they will treat employees 1,000x worse than a person who is not deeply invested in distinguishing themselves as “better than” the unwashed rabble they boss around.

    I’m sure there’s a term for this aspect of human nature, but it escapes me at the moment…

  70. andy966 says:

    Yes, its sad that there are sweatshops, but believe me, without them, you would have to pay almost 30-40% more for your clothing at the GAP, BR and all the other clothing shops. Also, without the sweatshops, these immigrants don’t have jobs. Instead, these jobs will go to sweatshops in China and other 3rd world countries which have even worse conditions. Believe me, I have been there and witnessed it. Your clothing purchases are feeding hungry mouths and keeping families alive in 3rd world countries. I do wish that things were better, but this is REALITY.

  71. alejo699 says:

    Wow. Not much sympathy for the workers here, huh? Because they might be here illegally it’s okay to exploit them? And if we police this sort of behavior clothes will cost more, so we should just ignore it?
    Again, wow. Whether people are legal or illegal immigrants, making them virtual slaves is not okay. And as for all this money it’s supposed to save us — do you folks not realize the markup that’s being passed along to us? Victoria’s Secret probably buys those gauzy pieces of polyester for 75 cents and then sells them to you for 75 dollars. Just because a company squeezes both its workers and its customers doesn’t mean it’s struggling. It just means its owners are trying to get rich as quickly as they possibly can, before you figure out that it would be a better idea to spend that $75 on groceries or gasoline.

  72. Mr. Damage says:

    Having worked in said industry, I’m getting a kick out of these comments (not really). And having worked in said in industry, I consider it full of villany and scumbag (not unlike those who frequent evil imageboards).

    alejo699 is very correct in that they will pay as little as possible to the vendors while turning around and making consumer pay through the nose for what is essentially shoddy piece of clothing. As a result the vendor works on a thin profit margin, and likewise, the vendor’s contractor works literally for pennies profit (if that). It starts from top-down, and is one of the reasons why I never shop clothing at full retail price.

    Oh, and for the most part, the clothing that gets shipped to discount stores (such as ROSS) are more or less same as the ones that gets shipped to the Department stores. Same slave… sweatshop labor, same garment, same labels (or some random off labels but assuredly, from the same designer and same garment/fabric/materials).

    There are compliancy programs and companies that checks for compliance, but hey, if they can get by government inspectors…

  73. bombaxstar says:

    @oldheathen: Crab mentality, maybe? Push others down to bring themselves up.

  74. pinkyracer says:

    @EllaMcWho:

    EXACTLY! Having been in apparel product development for 14 years, I know that a lot of these prices are impossible. Sure, with ridiculously high volume you can make something, but it’s not easy.

    It’s sad to see this still happening here, but people are right, these workers came in search of the American dream and found it. Unlike the ones who were held prisoner as indentured servants at factories busted in the 90′s.

  75. bria says:

    @Chris Walters:

    Oh my gosh- You actually responded to a comment by a commenter! Jezebel never does that, so I automatically love you 100000000000 times more. Maybe next time you could add a subcomment about how American Apparel lacks in other areas. Alternative Apparel is a good alternative:

    [www.alternativeapparel.com]

    And here’s a good list of organic, nonsweatshop clothes:

    [www.newdream.org]

  76. Cliff_Donner says:

    Macy’s says they’re “very concerned” . . .

    Sounds like they’re “taking it seriously,” without the “taking it seriously” part . . . .

  77. ageshin says:

    The article didn’t say that the workers were illegal workers, only that they were Chinese. If one is any kind of student of history one would see that this kind of activity was rampent in the early 1900′s and was the cause of the laws against sweetshops that we have on the books. All of this is another example of the free market at work. This is an example of what the free marketers have planed for all of us.

  78. ageshin says:

    Correction; I mean sweatshops not sweetshops.

  79. MorrisseyTheCat says:

    @Dabigkid: I had a Professor who came here from China, and was kind of shocked when she repeated stated that the “sweatshops” were vital to these people, and the money they made went a lot further there than when compared to US cost of living.
    The Wal-Mart “High Cost of Low Prices” film had interviews with a lot of people over there, that seemed to indicate otherwise (of course we are only hearing the translation audio in a film with an genda). Not sue what I believe anymore…everyone seems to have an agenda

  80. MiddleGeek says:

    What’s the problem? They are reducing the carbon output involved in shipping or flying those good from the other side of the world. Good for them!

    (/sarcasm)

  81. Dabigkid says:

    @MorrisseyTheCat: Well do you think the Chinese people LIKE working in those sweatshops? I’ll answer for you: no. The working conditions in those sweatshops suck. And I’m sure most Chinese hate working at them.

    But they have to work there. If they weren’t working in sweatshops with bad conditions, they’d either be jobless or working on farms with equally horrible conditions and less pay and long term prosperity. Chinese sweatshops suck… but nearly everyone would be worse off without them. And I think that’s what your professor was talking about. He wasn’t falling to the petty emotions and dislike of the factories people shared there: he was probably looking at how China would be without all of those factories: a miserable dump.

    As for money going further there than in China… well those people are barely living on anything over there, so that definitely makes sense. The average American makes more a week than the average Chinese makes a year.

    I haven’t watched that “High Cost of Low Prices” propaganda film, but I doubt that it went over the opportunity costs of having no sweatshops.

  82. Channing says:

    @Dabigkid:
    In fact, these sweatshops actually empower women. Instead of being chained to home, only to be wed to some man that will only use her for getting food cooked and for popping out babies, these girls are actually earning money which they can use on whatever they choose.

    I am in now way saying sweatshops are a gift from God, but they are definitely better than what these people would otherwise be doing.