Sweatshops in the Industrial Revolution

Sweatshops is term for a production area, usually in the textile business, that refers to a factory or home based business that has long hours and small pay. In other words, a sweatshop is a factory that employs many people and makes them work along time for little moneyanti_sweatshop.jpg In a sweatshop, the goal is to create as many commodities such as coats, shirts and toys as possible as quick as possible. To achieve this, workers do only do one thing, like cut out left arms, or hem a collar, and then they pass it on to the next person who does the next thing. This form of labor is called the assembly line , and it caused sweatshop production to skyrocket. Typically, workers are paid per piece, and this is called piecemeal. Workers were paid a certain amount of money for every piece completed. To gain a large salary, you have to work really fast and hard to complete as many pieces possible before the work shift was up. However, the payment for each piece might be as low as fifty cents.


With the exploitation of workers, sweatshop owners would save a lot of money and make enormous profits. This is part of why sweatshops were so prevalent. If your sweatshop makes twenty-five hundred jackets and sell them for thirty dollars each, you make seventy-five thousand dollars. The material for all those jackets cost you three thousand dollars and you have fifty workers with wages of thirteen dollars each ual price paid by Nike to Chinese workers) making a total of three thousand, six hundred and fifty dollars to subtract from your total. Congratulations, you are seventy-one thousand, three hundred and fifty dollars richer than when you started! The greed of the Industrial Revolution was fueled by sweatshops to the point were the government had to step in for the sake of all those poor workers. Today, more and more companies are exporting their labor to developing countries where restrictions are not in place for the benefit of the working class.
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Even in the twenty first century, sweatshops still exist. Countries like Thailand, China, Vietnam are havens for sweatshops run by big brand-name companies like Nike , Levi Strauss, and Adidas. These companies often sell clothes and other products made by sweatshop labor in a third world country. As many workers testify, the conditions in these workhouses are often below standard, and the minimum wage is extremely low. Kids as old as five are present in sweatshop conditions while parents work for up to 15 or 20 hours a day. Companies like Nike, Adidas, Levi Strauss, Gap, Old Navy, Reebok, Ralph Lauren, and Walmart all have dealings with sweatshops. 2004-12-6-sweatshops-in-la.jpgIt's incredibly sad to see the average consumer purchase goods made by a Thai girl slaving away, just to make money for her family to survive. Yet this young girl's work does not go in vain, as many people across developed and westernized countries are beginning to mobilize against the companies mentioned above. Some famous "Anti-Sweatshop Movements" like the USAS consist of students fighting for child laborer's rights by staging demonstrations and boycotting sweatshop products.

While some people are fighting against sweatshops, there are not enough. Sweatshops have survived a hundred years and almost no action has been taken against companies that use them. Not enough people understand the fact that sweatshop labor has infiltrated almost every brand name company in existence. The hard reality is that the average consumer is always going to want a good deal on a shirt or a computer, and sweatshop labor will be there to provide them with it.



Sweatshop Bibliography

"United Students Against Sweatshops." 1998. University of Southern California. 9 Oct. 2008 <http://www.studentsagainstsweatshops.org/>.

"Empowering Workers, Informing Consumers." History. Sweatshop Watch. 4 Sep 2007 <http://www.sweatshopwatch.org/index.php?s=53>.

Hornberger, Jacob G.. "Economic Liberty and the Constitution, Part 6." The Future of Freedom Foundation. Nov 2002. EyeWitness to History. 24 Sep 2007 <http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761555175/Sweatshop.html#p2>.

"Immigration in the Early 20th Century." http://americanhistory.si.edu__. 2000. EyeWitness to History. 11 Sep 2007 <http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/snpim3.htm>.

"Sweatshop."
http://encarts.msn.com__. EyeWitness to History. 13 Sep 2007 <http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761555175/Sweatshop.html#p2>.

"Tenement Sweatshops." http://americanhistory.si.edu__. 10 Sep 2007 <http://americanhistory.si.edu/sweatshops/history/tenement.htm>.

"The Garment Industry's Social Pollution."
www.lotusorganics.com. Lotus organics. 15 Sep 2007 <http://www.lotusorganics.com/articles/Sweatshops.aspx>.

"Working Conditions."
www.socialstudieshelp.com__. 10 Sep 2007 <http://www.socialstudieshelp.com/Lesson_47_Notes.htm>.