Economics 298a John Miller
Sweatshops in The Global Economy 006 Knapton
A century ago, when immigrants from eastern
This course engages students in the controversy regarding
sweatshops and their role in the global economy. We ask why sweatshops have returned to the
The course pays special attention to what we should and can do about sweatshop labor and asks students to develop an appropriate public response to sweatshops, as well as poor peoples' and workers' movements in the developing world. We will ask if international labor standards, including calls for a "living wage" have been effective in alleviating sweatshop conditions. We also ask if industrial codes of conducts and the recent self-monitoring efforts of corporations such as Reebok and Mattel are effective ways to regulate sweatshops. In addition, we will assess the impact of social movements – first-world anti-sweatshop movements led by consumers, religious groups, and students and third-world workers’ and poor peoples’ movements – have had on sweatshop conditions and examine our role in that movement.
Behind The Label: Inequality in The
Beyond Sweatshops: Foreign Direct Investment Globalization in Developing Countries by Theodore H. Moran.
Can Labor Standards Improve Under Globalization? by Kimberly Ann Elliot and Richard B. Freeman
China's Workers Under Assault: the exploitation of Labor in a Globalizing Economy by Anita Chan.
No Sweat: Fashion, Free trade, and The Rights of Garment Workers edited by Andrew Ross.
Photocopied Packet of Readings available in Knapton 007 (for $10).
Class Participation – This class should operate as a seminar. A seminar allows each of us to try out new ideas, to learn from each other, and to develop our critical facilities. All of this is possible only if each of us is willing to participate actively in our class discussions. Part of your grade will be based upon the quantity and quality of your class participation. This is just as much a requirement for the course as any written assignment.
While effective class participation requires more than just showing up, you certainly can’t be a regular participant in our class discussions if you don’t show up. I will expect you to attend each class. Missing more than two classes will lower your final grade.
Papers – You will complete four short essays addressing different themes of the course as the required formal writing. The essays will between 500 and 2000 words and due different times during the semester. One essay will be based on your oral report described below.
Oral Reports -- Each student will make a class presentation as part of a research team. You will present the results of your library study on working conditions and economic conditions in the clothing, footwear, and toy industries in various countries of the global economy. We organize teams of students by industry, country and corporation. You will develop an annotated bibliography of electronic and printed sources. You will present the class with copies of your annotated sources and a handout that summarizes your presentation.
Special Class Sessions -- We will spend one class spend one class meeting touring Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the first textile mill in the United States
Mid-term and Final Exam Essays: You will have a take-home mid-term and final exam that will ask you to write essays that explore the themes we develop during the semester.
Course Grading – Your grade for the course will be determined by:
Papers Class Participation and Discussion Questions Oral Report and Paper Mid term and Final Exam Essays
Course Outline and Tentative
Sept. 4, 9, 11 Introduction: Sweatshops and the Anti-Sweatshop Movement
"Two Cheers for Sweatshops," by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn,
In No Sweat: “Introduction” by Ross.
"Knight Is Right," by Thomas
VIDEO: “Sweating For a T-shirt” by Global Exchange (1999).
BROWSE: Smithsonian Institution Exhibit, Between A Rock and A Hard
especially Fashion Food Chain and Dialogue and
Sept.16,18 What is A Sweatshop?
In No Sweat: “The Economics of the Sweatshop,” by Piore and “After the
Year of the
Sweatshop: Postscript,” by Ross, “
Workers” by Su, and “They Want to Kill Us For Little Money,” by Mort..
Sweatshop Warriors, ch. 1, ch. 2, "Rojan 'Na' Cheuchujit," pp. 235-242.
China's Workers Under Assault, cases 19a & 19b. pp. 185-196.
fold on sweatshop lawsuit,"
of these is a Sweatshop?
BROWSE: Sweatshop Watch, especially Factsheet, the Garment Industry,
Watch, Facts on the Global Sweatshop, Feminists Against Sweatshops, Frequently
Asked Questions, , and "Sweatshops in the
Sept.23, 25, 30
Oct. 2* In No Sweat: “Labor, History, and Sweatshops in the New Global
Economy” by Howard.
Behind The Label, intro. Part I: Capital, ch. 1 – 4, Part II: Labor , ch. 5 - 7.
Sweatshop Warriors by Miriam Ching Yoon Louie ch. 2,
“Maquiladoras: The View from the Inside,” by Fernandez-Kelly in
The Women, Gender, and Development Reader edited by Visvanathan et al. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and Sweatshop Reform In American History by
Suzanne Lieurance, ch 1, ch.2, ch. 4- ch. 6.
"Budgets of the Triangle Fire Victims," in The Triangle Strike and Fire,
by McClymer, pp. 107-109.
"The Big City: A 1911 Fire as Good TV, Bad History," New York Times,
BROWSE: Cornell ILR Triangle Fire Website, especially narrative 2 & 3
and Letters, Newman; "Remembering Rose Freedman, last survivor of the
Triangle Factory Fire," CBC, 2001; Smithsonian
Institution Exhibit, Between A Rock and
Oct. 7, 9,16 Why Would Economists Defend Sweatshops?
"In Defense of Sweatshops," in The Sweatshop Quandary, ch. 3.
"Why Economists are Wrong About Sweatshops and the Anti-Sweatshop
Movement,' by Miller, Challenge, Jan./Feb. 2003.
"In Praise of Cheap Labor," by Paul
“A Defense of Sweatshops” by Weidenbaum All in Child Labor and
Sweatshops edited by Williams, 1999.
"Academic Consortium on International Trade), Letter to University
Presidents,", available at the ACIT website.
"Scholars Against Sweatshop Labor Statement," available at PERI..
Contours of Descent by Pollin, pp. 156-163,
Browse "Clothes Encounters: Activists and Economists Clash Over
Sweatshops," by Liza Featherstone and Doug Henwood, Lingua Franca,
March 2001. "Antisweatshop Movement: A Letter and a Response" by Linda Lim and John Miller, Challenge, July-August 2003.
Oct. 21, 23 Two Views of Globalization and The Role of Direct Foreign Investment
28 Beyond Sweatshops: ch. 1, ch. 2, ch. 3.
"Global Capitalism: Can it be made to work better?" Business Week
"Globalism's Discontents," by Joseph Stiglitz, The American Prospect,
Vol. 13, Issue 1,
"The Scorecard of Globalization 1980-2000: Twenty Years of Diminished
Progress, " by Wesibrot et al and "Globalization: A Primer" by Weisbrot,
both from The Center For Economic and Policy Research.
for the Holy Grail?
Making FDI Work for Sustainable Development," by Zarksy and Gallagher.
VIDEO: Global Village or Global Pillage (Global Exchange).
BROWSE: Braunstein and Epstein. 2002. Bargaining
Power and Foreign Direct Investment in
"But Mr. Clinton, Globalization has a Human Face," by Bhagwati, The
Oct. 30 Clothes
Production in the Global Economy:
Nov. 4, 6
BROWSE. Global Exchange, Global Trade Watch, and National Labor
Nov. 11, 13 The Athletic Footwear Industry:
In Made in
Intro , Labor Law in
Imprisoned, Rhetoric vs. Reality.
“Commodity Chains and Marketing Strategies: Nike and the Global
Athletic Footwear Industry,” by Korzeniewicz, in Commodity Chains and
Global Capitalism, edited by Gary Gereffic and Miguel Korzeniewicz.
“The Globetrotting Sneaker,” by Enloe, Women’s Lives, edited by Gwyn
VIDEO: Now with Bill Moyers
BROWSE NIKE ON
THE WEB: “Nike’s Satanic Factories in
commitment to human rights is genuine,” by Hong Kong Christian
Industrial Committee 2/00.
Nov. 18, 20, Labor Standards and The Living Wage Debate;
Beyond Sweatshops, ch. 4, ch. 5.
Can Labor Standards Improve Under Globalization?, ch. 1, ch 2, ch. 3.
Contours of Descent by Pollin, pp. 156-163,
BROWSE: "Thinking About Social Responsibility," by Jagdish
Bhagwati, World Link , Feb. 2001. “The Case of Corporate
Responsibility: Paying a Living Wage to Maquila Workers in El
Clean Clothes Campaign; "The Effects of Multinational Production
on Wages and Working Conditions in Developing Countries," by Brown, Deadorff, and Stern; "Global Apparel Production and Sweatshop Labor: Can Raising Retail Prices Finance Living Wages?" by Pollin, Burns and Heintz, Cambridge Journal of Economics, forthcoming.2003.
Dec. 2, 4 Government Enforcement, Labor Rights, Corporate Responsibility, and
9, 11 Antisweatshop Movement
Behind the Label: ch. 8, ch. 9, ch. 10.
Beyond Sweatshops, ch. 6, ch. 7, ch. 9.
Can Labor Standards Improve Under Globalization?, ch. 6, ch. 7.
“The Era of Corporate Rule,” by Naomi Klein, Corporate Watch.
"Knight Is Right," by Thomas
"Foot Fault,' by Peter Drier and Richard Appelbaum, The American Prospect
On Line, Sept. 2003.
Sweatshops Pressed by U.S Campus Power,”
BROWSE: Bata Shoes, Corporate Watch, Fair Labor Association, Global
Exchange, Global Trade Watch, Mattel, Reebok, and Unite,
Association, , Sweatshop Watch, United Students Against Sweatshops.
* Field Trip to Slater Mill, date to be announced.
HELPFUL WEBSITE LOCATONS
large Canadian owner manufacturer of shoes operating in
governmental organizations (NGOs) as a more responsible employer that pays a living
wage and does not use subcontractors.
Covers the Nike in Vietnam Story reported on CBS provides a report on the dangerous and
abusive labor practice
in the factories of Nike’s subcontractors in
grassroots activism throughout the
sweatshop abuses and
child labor. Large sections on Nike in
and sweatshops in
Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC)
"Remembering Rose Freedman, last survivor of the Triangle Factory Fire." CBC, 2001.
A British website with updated reports on Nike in
A national non-profit education organization that works to promote a socially responsible
Contains pictures of and commentary on the fire and its aftermath.
Bills itself as the watch dog of the web when it comes to corporate irresponsibility. Of
interest are its Nike expose page and its newsletter Blood, Sweat, and Shears.
Garment Industry Association that emerged from a White House organized anti-sweatshop
meeting. It members include Kathie Lee Gifford, Liz Claiborne, Reebok, and other
corporate giants and its fair labor guidelines demand that member corporations open their plants to inspection by external monitors and that members pay the prevailing minimum wage, not a living wage.
These standards emerged from the labor struggles of the 1930s and the New Deal and were
enacted in 1938. They include the minimum wage, time and a half for overtime, and the
prohibition of homework and child labor.
This feminist web site points out that women make up 90% of sweatshop laborers in the
global economy. Their frequently asked questions section is especially helpful.
One of two leading groups in the
Information on global economy as well as corporate reports such as Nike Update.
Part of Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen devoted to promoting government and corporate
accountability in the world economy
A site managed by United For A Fair Economy contains the latest data on U.S inequality.
International Labor Organization (ILO)
Official international labor and human rights organization known as the authors of
International Labor Conventions and for its studies of the informal sector.
their January 1999 report on Sweatshop in the
Mattel, the toy company, one of the largest contractors of toys producer in the developing world, recently published a study of conditions in the factories of their subcontractors.
TV News: Sweatshops:
Assembled for their Dateline Program. See especially the undercover diary and timetable.
National Labor Committee (NLC)
One of the two (along with Global Exchange) leading Human and Workers Rights
organizations in the
NLC has conducted successful campaigns against Kathie Lee Gifford/Wal-Mart and the
Gap and has
recently turned its attention to
Nike’s social responsibility webpage that contains: Nike’s response to student
protests, Nike’s take on the labor conditions in its factories in China, and an explanation of Phil Knight’s (the CEO) decision to no longer donate to the
Community Aid Abroad,
dedicated to a campaign to get Nike to upgrade its code of conduct.
Site contains a study of wages paid workers in factories of Nike subcontractors in
Department of Labor (D.O.L.) anti-sweatshop page includes lists of corporations granted
The D.O.L. no sweat label. Uses the GAO definition of sweatshops.
Poverty Net: Resources to Support People Working to Understand and Alleviate Poverty
World Bank poverty page with data, interviews, and program descriptions.
One of the largest manufacturers of athletic footwear, regards itself as a model employer,
published a self-monitoring report on its subcontractors in
Reports on its Summer 1997 Volume devoted to sweatshops. It includes helpful exercises
And curriculum suggestions.
controversial Sweatshop in
on the history of
the global production game.
A coalition of labor, community, civil rights, immigrant rights, women’s, religious and
student organizations and individuals committed to eliminating sweatshop conditions in
the global garment industry. See What is a Sweatshop under garment industry.
United Nations Development Program (UNDP)
UN agency that publishes the Human Development Report and is know for its work on
Global inequality by income, region, and gender.
An international coalition of students devoted to stopping sweatshop labor. It reports
On the USAS-directed Sweat-Free-Campus Campaign which demands that colleges
Initiate codes of conduct that go beyond the standards set by the Fair Labor