Wal-Mart. Many people have no idea that these companies are using sweatshops. Disney for
example is a very well known company. No one would ever expect that their favorite childhood
Peter and Rochelle Schweizer makes it clear that it could be a possibility: ? The face of Disney the
manufacturer is not a pretty one. All too often Disney clothes, toys, and trinkets are made by
child laborers. Disney licensees have been caught using child labor on three continents? (245).
knowledge. If companies feel that sweatshops are a decent and fair way of doing business and
confront their consumers?s concerns. They should let their consumers know why they choose to
product that they choose, and not only what the company wants them to
well as the over all product information.
Some companies?s use of sweatshops have been made public. Kathie-Lee Gifford?s
shocked when she heard of the sweatshop conditions her company was using. Since this Gifford
has been involved in organizing the Apparel Industry Partnership with the U.S. Department of
support other companies can be influenced in similar ways.
Disney, however, has not been so noteworthy in their efforts. Disney licensees go out of
their way to bring their company to countries such as Burma, where the practice of child labor is a
normal everyday event, and they exploit this to create their product as cheaply as possible.
Schweizer explains how remote the locations that Disney licensees use, ? For years Disney
location because so few people are aware of it. This makes it easy for the Disney licensees to
have sweatshops in Burma from these drug lords. This shows how the drug lords are the ones
1996, they did get a response from Disney. The National Labor Committee and other
organizations together made Disney?s involvement in Burma public with the Free Burma
Campaign. Disney denied these claims. They pretended they had no involvement in Burma.
They knew how the negative public announcement would hurt the company, which is the major
reason why companies hide the facts from the consumers. Schweizer explains that many other
respectable companies have volunteered to monitor their working conditions, however, Disney is
not one of them. This shows that Disney is aware that the problem of sweatshop exists in their
seems less than interested in tackling the child labor problem. Retailers and
manufacturers have been asked by the U.S. Department of Labor to voluntarily
pledge to monitor their contractors to make sure no child labor is being used.
Dozens of well- known companies have joined, including Abercrombie and Fitch,
Disney has not (254).
However, Disney continues to be a very hypocritical company by continuing to stay active in
shame that the children that are working for them do not receive the same benefits. It is quite
This shows how companies try to rationalize what they know is wrong. Consumers must
know that they are being deceived by the image they have of the company. The company CEO?s
can no longer ignore the situation. Consumers have to let the companies know that they are
aware of this situation. They need to let the companies know that they can not continue to hide
the problem. Something needs to be done. Consumers must stop supporting these companies. If
the consumers keep on ignoring this, then the companies win. Consumers have to start fighting
in a society that encourages this horrible situation. After the consumers get involved, then the
companies can not ignore their public. They will have to look for another source of economic
growth. Without the companies there wanting the children to work, they will be set free from
these conditions. But we do then face the problem of what the children would do for income. It is
better situation outcome would be that the children could get better wages and working
conditions. That would be the ideal situation.
The reasons the companies have for using sweatshops must be considered as well. We
states, ? It would take a Haitian worker sewing Disney garments 156 years to earn what Michael
Eisner earned in one hour!? (sec.2) Something needs to be done so that the difference between
stations reach one out of every four households in the U.S., one out of every four movie tickets
holds on the U.S. public. It also illustrates the fact that Disney can definitely afford to stay away
from child labor and the use of sweatshops to create its products. Many companies are just like
Disney this is just one of the many examples.
It is important for consumers to know and understand these facts. Consumers are then
faced with a decision: to get involved, or to go on ignoring the problem because they feel there is
nothing they can do. But without the aid of these consumers, organizations? attempts at stopping
these companies fail. The organizations rely on consumer support for their movements. It is also
important for these organizations to show the consumers how easy it is to get involved and have
There are many small steps that the consumers can take to make a difference in the use of
sweatshops. The best way would be to get everyone to take just one step. If just a few people
day, the effect would not be as great. It is important for the consumers to take the first step in
showing their concern. If consumers never voice this concern to the companies, they (the
companies) continue to think that they are getting away with using this cheap labor. Here are
some ideas on how consumers can easily get involved on a daily basis to ensure they are showing
support. Holstein makes consumers aware that the process of getting involved can be a simple
one, ? There is no way to pick up a product and instantly know how it was made. But there are
what you buy.? ( par. 1)
One of the simplest things consumers can do is to check where the articles are made.
Consumers can do this by looking at the label on the merchandise. If they see that it was made in
possibility is greater that the merchandise was made in a sweatshop. If the consumer does not feel
comfortable going by the label alone, they can ask a store manager. Store managers are usually
friendly and willing to share any information that they know about their products with the
consumer. However, this could both be an advantage or a disadvantage. The store manager may
know less than you do about the situation or could have even been instructed not to talk about
share this learned knowledge. It is worth the chance to try either way.
Once a consumer has found where the product was made, they should be cautious of
certain countries. Some of the tactics taken are consumer boycotts. This is the tactic that the
opponents of the regime in Burma employed. Boycotting is not always the best action to take, as
explained by a Reebok executive: ? If Americans decided that they weren?t going to buy soccer
boycotting is not helpful, all this does is make more people lose their job. This is not a permanent
solution. A more effective way to show concern is to ask questions about the countries of origin.
Learn more about the products that consumers buy.
If the consumer sees a made in the U.S.A label, they should not assume it is safe. Many
monthly State Labor Review shows that the United States is still trying to work against this.
?Child labor continues to be an issue of great interest at both the Federal and State level. A mix
of legislation was enacted this year, with laws passed both to strengthen and to relax child labor
regulation.[ in the U.S.]? ( Nelson, par. 7). The United States itself is still having problems
weeding out these companies who are producing merchandise in such conditions. The problem of
sweatshops is also evident in the U.S..
Consumers should use the resources given to them. One extremely useful resource is the
U.S. Department of Labor?s website [http://www.dol.gov/dol/esa/public/nosweat/trands.htm].
Here they can find a list of retailers that are using enlightened sourcing practices. They can also
contact the consumer group that they use most regularly and persuade them to include workplace
conditions in their report. By doing this the U.S. Department of Labor is making a lot of
consumers more aware of a situation of sweatshops, most of these consumers they reach are
completely ignorant of the situation. This could greatly influence the way people shop.
After consumers take these steps, the companies will see the effect. Hopefully the effect
will be great enough that the company will change their labor practices. By making the
companies change their labor practices, the consumer has made a difference. Without the
consumer and the aid of different National Labor Committees, the companies could not be
persuaded to change their ways.
Consumer?s children can also get involved. Children have a voice and when they are
informed of such activities as child labor and sweatshops they can be useful tools. Maria Sweeney
chose the Nike and Disney companies to be their focus (par. 2). The children were cautious with
choosing these companies.
Nike was at the top of the list, ?Most kids think they can?t live without Nike,? one
student observed. The others agreed that the company holds great sway over
young people. Several wondered if we could even compete with its power: ? The
whole point of the play would be to get them to join the boycott,? one student
cautioned,? but most kids would never stop wearing Nike stuff. It wouldn?t be
cool at all to be against Nike? ( par. 3).
The students agreed that kids have the right to know of the awful conditions. These children
knew that they could make a difference if they informed their peers of the situations that they have
become aware of.
The students wanted to be able to reach all of their intended audience. This is why they
choose Disney as the second company, hoping to reach the younger audience. The students knew
and thereby enhance earnings, their motive here being profit. This would somehow explain to the
students why the public relations departments would publicly deny any involvement with child
This way the children knew the differences between both sides and could make their own
opinions. (par. 15)
Once the children?s play was put together, the school refused to let them perform it in
front of the rest of the school as originally planned. The children recognized this as censorship.
They were being forced to only perform it in front of an audience consisting of their parents.
extreme luck the students were asked to perform their play on Broadway (par. 19-20).
Consumers of all ages can make a difference if they are given the chance. Everyone can
make a difference. The children?s ideas would now be heard by a larger audience then ever
expected. Their feelings are being heard by a more diverse group of people. This means that they
may help even more people realize the truth to this awful situation in these poor third world
countries, who rely on U.S. companies to set up sweatshops so they can earn a meager living.
In conclusion, Moberg shows us that consumers can make a difference in the fight against
think that this alone will produce only limited advances.? (par. 8) Consumers must aid
organizations in their fight against International sweatshops by getting involved, being aware, and
being not ignorant. Without the consumers the organizations fight is pointless. They are fighting
for what most consumers are ignorant about. It is important to get the information out to
everyone about the poor conditions, our everyday products are being created in. Everyday more
and more consumers are being made aware, although they do not know how to help. That is
where the organizations get involved. They provide the information on how individual consumers
can make a difference. Everyone is important in this cause. The information is out there, it just
needs to be accessed.
National Labor Committee.Campaign For Labor Rights. Disney Alert #2. 11 June, 1997.
22 March 2000.
Nelson, Richard R. State labor legistration enacted in 1998. Monthly Labor Review. v122
no1 p3-15 January 1999.
Radical Teacher. no 55 p11-14 1999