A selection of stories from our past archives with evergreen appeal, and aftertaste. We bring you horrific tales of The Hellraiser Sneaker, The Cellphone Call That Destroyed My Speakers, and I Bought A New Punching Bag That Turned Out To Be Stuffed With Dirty Underwear.
When we noted the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25, you might have looked at that and thought, phew, good thing stuff like that isn’t happening anymore. But in developing countries around the world with little to no worker rights and sweatshops paying pennies a day, it is. Like in Bangladesh in December 2010 when 29 workers died after a fire swept through the Hameem garment factory. The workers were trapped inside because guards had been ordered to lock the gates in the event of a fire in order to prevent clothes from being stolen during the confusion. The factory made clothes for GAP.
Last week, news broke that a sweatshop in Queens, NYC was producing clothing for several large U.S. retailers, while overworking its mainly Chinese immigrant employees and cheating them out of wages. At the time, Macy’s announced it was cooperating with New York’s Department of Labor and investigating the matter internally. Now the company has confirmed that it never did business with the sweatshop—in fact, it investigated it twice in 2007 while evaluating potential suppliers and rejected it for shoddy record keeping. Use your crazy Macy’s coupons all you want, readers.
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.)
Economists and politicians rant about China in terms of jobs lost, currency valuation, and trade gaps. But the New York Times reports that a new metric has been discovered: every year, Chinese workers manufacturing our toys, garments and electronic junk in the Peal River Delta collectively break 40,000 fingers.
A National Labor Committee report says that Christmas ornaments sold by Walmart are manufactured in sweatshops in which workers are not given safety gear to protect them from toxic chemicals. [KUTV] (Thanks, Jay!)
With the Gap embarrassed this week by reports that Indian children as young as 10 were making Gap Kids clothing, a lot of people are asking, just how frequently and to what degree do large U.S. companies like Gap and Wal-Mart monitor their foreign manufacturers? According to Slate, “anywhere from six months to once every several years.” Unfortunately, because the visits are usually announced ahead of time, factories can hide violations, coach employees on what to say, get rid of the child workers, and forge records. In China, there are consultants who will prepare a factory for inspection, going so far as to fake missing records.
Liveblogging The Senate Commerce Committee Hearing On Toys, Children's Products, And The Chinese Sweatshops In Which They're Made
Starting today at 9:30 a.m., the Senate Commerce Committee will examine the lives of the young Chinese workers who assemble our Barbies and Tiggers without the workforce protections or social safety nets enjoyed by western workers.
Foxconn was ill-pleased with the allegations of two Chinese journalists that they had set-up massive iPod sweatshops in Rural Red Country. How ill-pleased are they? As they previously warned, they are suing these guys into oblivion.
As you can easily imagine, breaking labor laws in China is a bit hard to do as an employer. However, Foxconn managed to do just that by forcing the workers in the Apple iPod factories to work up to 80 extra hours per month. Under local law, laborers can only be forced to work 36 extra hours.
Now playing on an iPod near you, the sweet sounds of The Sweatshop Boys…
This morning we’re going to be doing some hating on Apple. Might as well just warn you now. So if you’re one of those smug idiot Apple zealots who were the main reason why I put off buying a Mac for as long as I did, you might want to avert your eyes. Because Steve Jobs isn’t God, iTunes DRM sucks and, oh yeah: iPods are made in Chinese sweatshops.
- “Wal-Mart Stores plans to hire up to 150,000 employees in China over the next five years, five times the number of workers it currently has there, as it expands its number of stores, the company said Monday.”