Fair International Labor Movement (Team Core4)

Do you know where your clothes come from? I don’t mean just what’s on the label like “Made in China” or “Produced in Sri Lanka”; I’m talking about the entire process from start to finish. In my Fashion 180 class (Product Development),  I recently learned about the Catch 22 that is international labor and outsourcing apparel manufacturing to countries such as Bangladesh, China, India,  and Vietnam. The reason why such outsourcing is a Catch 22 is because while companies in America are paying international workers minuscule fractions of what they would have to pay them in America, working at such companies is still the best option for such workers since there is such a dearth of any paying jobs in their area.sweat

However, these workplaces (sweatshops, production lines), while they may be the worker’s best options, are still very dangerous, unstable, and prone to fires. In 2013, a sweatshop named Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh, and thousands of workers were either instantly dead or irreversibly injured, leaving their families in despair with no other source of income.fashion

After this, the movement for safe and fair international labor really took off. This movement is important to me because as a fashion major, I have seen the impacts of globalization on the industry and I have seen how increasingly spread out production is becoming from its central source. This has a huge impact on the lives of many people around the world. The movement focuses on improving workplace conditions internationally and making labor more regulated through increasing the minimum working age, increasing general wages, and making workplaces safer and less crowded. I like how this movement is global and forces us to open our eyes to issues beyond the scope of our day to day lives as college students. We could even possibly get input from international students from countries such as China who have seen the impacts of it first hand or who have had relatives work in the unsafe conditions before.

-Katie Kornienko, Core4

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7 thoughts on “Fair International Labor Movement (Team Core4)

  1. Katie, I like how this cause is something that’s personal to you. Your passion for it really comes through in your post. As you mentioned, sweatshops provide an undesirable working environment in which workers are employed at very low wages for long hours. I learned a lot about sweatshops in high school through a Global Perspectives class, and was shocked to find out that companies like Nike, Walmart, and the Gap all resort to this type of labor for production. I think that you brought up a good point in saying that “working at such companies is still the best option for such workers” because, unfortunately, a lot of the time their only other option is to turn to prostitution. Overall, great start!

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  2. Katie, your movement is very interesting. I guess I have never thought about how my clothes were made. I think that since this is such a global issue that still directly effects us as college students it will be very eye opening just like you said. I am not sure how you would support the movement on a college campus since it is a global issue. We as college students could bring about awareness but can not change the laws or create international change. If you have an idea for how you would bring about support this could be a great project!

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  3. I really like this movement. It is quite a unique movement, and unfortunately, not many people know about it. The encouraging aspect of this movement is that it is beneficial for both sides. What I mean is that the activists in 1st world countries such as the United States are motivated to support this movement in order to reduce the outsourcing of jobs and therefore, increase the number of jobs in their country. On the other hand, the movement clearly benefits the workers by working to improve their working conditions and to increase their pay. There are no clubs or organizations related to this cause on University of Delaware’s campus. Because you are so passion about this movement and it is related to your major, you can really make a difference!

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  4. I love how this movement is so personal to you and your interests. Safe and fair international labor is definitely an issue that not many people are aware of, or choose to ignore because it doesn’t directly affect them. I actually attended an international school in Thailand for a couple of years, and although I never witnessed unsafe labor firsthand it’s a very real problem in Thailand as well as in the other surrounding nations. As for advocating for this movement on the UD campus, I think that awareness will be the biggest focus of your project. When people are aware of where there clothes come from as well as the cost it took to produce them for such a cheap price, they will think twice before supporting businesses that use unsafe/unfair labor.

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  5. Katie, this is a really interesting and intersectional issue. Often people think only of the end product in their possession, rarely of the process required and all of the steps involved. What’s interesting to think about is that you say we rarely think about the effects of unsafe labor in America, and we certainly don’t, but this hasn’t always been the case. In fact many parts of the world are dealing with the growing pains that America felt during its own industrial revolution. Long, grueling hours, children working in unsafe conditions, and pitiful pay are all too common pieces in the mosaic of American history. Not only have we outsourced the jobs to other countries, we’ve outsourced the inexorable suffering.

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  6. I think this is a very under noticed issue in today’s world, specifically America. I agree that it is a very important topic that should be further explored. I think you raise an excellent point in how most people do not consider where their clothes come from besides what the tag on their shirt says. Most people live in the sheltered bubble of America and do not truly realize the problems in underdeveloped countries. It is the humane thing to do to provide equal pay and conditions even for workers who are outsourced by companies. I think this issue is specifically important since businesses are always looking for ways to cut down on costs, and some companies are willing to do anything to achieve that goal.

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  7. This movement is very unique and something I would be interested to learn a lot more about. I feel like most of American lives in a bubble of privilege and has no idea where any of their material items come from, especially that the inhumane way they are made. Businesses take advantage of the poor and do not care about how they are treated, just for the money. The workplace should be a safe and equal place because they people have no choice- they just want to money to live so they need these jobs and there is nothing else to do. Protecting them should be more of a concern for us and this movement should be more important.

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