Sweat it out

By Matt Stacionis

The benefits of sweat shops are great. Through their use, everyone has gotten something & from the worker to the corporation to the universities and, finally, to the consumer.

They bring economy to markets that wouldn’t normally have one. If the Nike and Adidas companies were not located in lower economic states, there would be no source of income.

Sweatshop.org tells some really interesting tales of how bad everyone else in the world has it. All of the stories, however, sound, well, the same. They talk of Nike workers in Mexico who were “attacked” after their strike. But if there wasn’t a Nike factory located in that part of Mexico, there wouldn’t be as strong a source of money flowing through their economy. If companies like Nike were forced to live to American-style wages, then they wouldn’t have ever left the U.S. That takes away the almost $10 a day the people are getting. Is that what they want?

Tales of kids working 12 hours a day are thrown under spotlights and made to be tales similar to the early part of America when immigrant children were forced to work in similar situations for similar pay. But they did it because they had to, just like the children of the lower economic countries do now. If there was any sort of real stability in those countries, the kids wouldn’t have to be working in the first place. And if the people in these countries are willing to take the $10 a day, then nobody else really has a right to step in and complain.

Those countries don’t have labor laws and minimum wage, and that’s why huge corporations go there. If they left, then the entire economy of any given country or city would be drained completely.

A lot of trendy organizations have jumped head first into the fight against sweat shops. Here is the list of goals which are trying to be obtained through the same Sweatshop.org site: full public disclosure of factory addresses, living wages, independent monitoring, freedom of association and collective bargaining, safe working conditions, no forced labor, no child labor and women’s rights. You want everyone to drive a Benz with that, too?

Everyone in America isn’t luxuried with that same type of treatment, so why should we fight for someone else to be?

Information provided by Vietnam Labor Watch and Sweatshop Watch tells a story of how 250 Vietnamese women are suing Daewoosa Samoa over the working conditions they had to endure. During the trial, the company went bankrupt and couldn’t pay the women even if they were to win. Those same women also lived in a compound of the company, which is located in American territory. This information went on to say that J.C. Penney and Sears are both carriers of the merchandise made by the Daewoosa.

Furthermore, it was in suggestion that those companies, “among others,” should help compensate these women.

Furthermore, this wasn’t the joke it first appeared to be. These people really thought that third-party companies should support these women just because they ran up on a little hard luck with their work. The same thing happens all over America, and that’s a little bit more important.

Oh, but how the stakes seem to increase when groups of students decide they want to get involved.

According to Sweatshop.org, a university hat which was made at a sweat shop and retails for $19.99 is made by a person making eight cents. The university itself makes $1.50 on the exchange, and everyone is happy. If a worker made four hats per hour and was paid $6 per hour, the average cost per hat would be $1.50. Keeping the same proportion as before, it would then cost the average NIU student $375 to purchase a baseball hat.

That same person might as well just take out another student loan if he or she wanted to buy a sweatshirt or look into a long-term investment in a jacket that caught his or her eye.

And for the large number of students at NIU who have read to this point and are now ready to be “go-getters”: In 1999, Georgetown students held an 85-hour sit-in.

Of those students, none brought as much fame and attention to the university as star basketball player Allen Iverson did when he played there. Those sweat shops would also more than likely make his jerseys. Under similar conditions as the hats, an Iverson jersey, which retails for $39.99, would cost 16 cents to pay someone to make and Georgetown would pocket $3. Everyone gets something, and the only person who is not happy is the Iverson-jerseyless protesters who had his parents’ trust fund pay for his college education.

Until Iverson makes a stand against what is going on, the rest of the Hoyas should remain standing and march right back to their dorm rooms and sit down until they figure out a way to become important enough to own a message to spread.

University of Wisconsin-Madison students won a living wage after a 95-hour sit-in that same year. And that same year, ditto with football player Ron Dayne.

Through the Northern Coalition for Peace and Justice, NIU students have made similar attempts, but walking through the VCB shows just how successful they were.

Students in Mexico overtook a university, and in China, they brought about governmental change. Maybe if protesters got matching T-shirts with logos and picked up a little catch phrase, like, let’s say “Just do it,” people would recognize them a bit more.

Try it & they sell the shirts all over the place.