A lot of people can agreethat sweatshops are unethical because the workers get paid very little and theyreceive very little to no benefits. But with most things, there are pros andcons to working in a sweatshop. In the article “Sweatshops and Respect forPersons” by Dennis Arnold and Norman Bowie, discusses the ethics of labor inregards to multinational enterprises that use sweatshops in their production.They are completely against working in sweatshops. But Matt Zwolinski saysotherwise.
In his article “Sweatshops, Choice, and Exploration”, he claims thatit’s better to work in a sweatshop rather than having no income at all. Sweatshops are work environments that possesses threecharacteristics. Long hours, low pay, and unsafe or unhealthy work environment.Some sweatshops have a policy limiting workers’ freedoms such as limitingbathroom breaks, not being able to talk to other coworkers. Sometimes evenviolence is used to discipline sweatshop workers. They are mostly located inthird-world countries or other developing countries. The United Statescurrently have strong labor laws therefore, it’s more uncommon for sweatshopsto exist in the U.S.
but some still do exist.DennisArnold and David Bowie refer to the Kantian doctrine, which consists oftreating workers with dignity, and basically giving them a good and safe workenvironment. Arnold and Bowie’s key thoughts in their article are about thetreatment of their workers, working conditions, and wages.
Many workers arebeing treated unfairly in sweatshops. The authors claim that the workers shouldbe treated with dignity and respect, because they’re not like the machines inthe factory. They have feelings and emotions. They should be ethically treated 2Sweatshopscompared to how machinesshould be treated. “Treating people as ends in themselves means ensuring theirphysical well- being and supporting and developing their rational and moralcapacities” (Arnold and Bowie, 224). Each worker should not have to come towork and worry if they would get hurt at work that day. According to “37Shocking Sweatshop Statistics”, an estimated 250 million children work insweatshops in developing countries by the age of five.
Children of that ageshould not be anywhere near dangerous machines. Many children have died fromthese conditions. Arnold and Bowie argue that the multinational enterprisesshould have the following duties: to ensure that local labor laws are followedto refrain from coercion to meet minimum safety standards and to provide aliving wage for employees. Improving health and safety conditions, andproviding a living wage to their workers will only produce more good and harmfor everyone. Although everyone can agree that working in a sweatshopcan be unfair and terrifying, but is it really that bad if it’s the onlyoption? Does the exchange between the worker and employee mutually beneficial?Even if it’s unfair? Zwolinski thinks that sweatshops make their employeesbetter off. Even if they don’t make them as much better off. Studies have shownthat sweatshops pay three to seven times the wages paid elsewhere in theeconomy. That’s why often of those workers choose to work in sweatshops.
3SweatshopsAccordingto Zwolinski, for the most part, people who work in sweatshops voluntarilychose to do so. They may not like the working conditions but they are still gettingpaid. They are better off with the money they made from sweatshops than havingno income at all. They can at least have some money to feed their family. I believeeveryone can agree that having something to eat is better than starving todeath. As bad as sweatshops are, there are always worse paying, more degrading,and more dangerous.Closingdown sweatshops would cause more harm than good. According to Zwolinski, eventhough everyone can agree that sweatshops are unfair, it is a bad idea toprohibit it.
Remember, workers only take the sweatshop jobs because they aredesperately poor, and it could be their only option. It could be theopportunity to feed their family. Taking away sweatshops does nothing to helpthe global poor at all or to enhance their options. It only reduces themfurther by making them unemployed. He also claims that the government can make itillegal for companies to give low wages, but it’s not illegal for the companiesto shut down and give no wages and make people unemployed. Another thing thatZwolinski argues is that it is better to do something to end global povertyrather than doing nothing. Therefore, sweatshops are doing something to help.
They are offering people jobs that are better than their alternatives, and they’recontributing to a process of economic development that could potentiallyincrease the living standards. 4Sweatshops Both articles make valid points. Arnold and Bowie aren’twrong. Sweatshops are very dangerous to a person’s well-being, they don’t givefair wages, and the work ours are super long. They give little to know benefits,and consistently working twelve to fifteen hour days from Monday to Saturday.Breaks and restroom breaks are not always readily available.
Therefore, if youwork at a sweatshop, you don’t even get a break some days, or get disciplinedfor getting up and going to the bathroom. I do agree with Arnold and Bowie that working conditionsshould change in sweatshop factories. Stated before, these workers are notmachines. Machines do not get tired, they have no feelings or emotions, theycan take a beating, they don’t have to eat, they don’t have to go to therestroom, and they can consistently stay working for long periods of timecompared to a human being. These workers do deserve to be treated with respectand dignity. They deserve to be treated as fairly as any other human being.Sometimes workers have to relieve themselves in a clean, sanitary bathroom.
They also deserve some time to eat food to keep their energy up. These workers are making the company millions of dollarsin profit, I believe they should have the duty to give their workers a decentliving wage. Because these people have families to feed. If they’re only makingabout .
30 cents a day, that’s barely enough to feed a whole family. Majority oftheir income is going to food for their families alone. On the other hand, Zwolinski also makes a great point.Yes, the working conditions are harsh, and the wage isn’t the greatest, but isthere a better alternative? It provides their family a 5Sweatshopsconsistent source ofincome.
It basically guarantees them income for food to survive. In a way,these sweatshops are contributing for the global poor. The workers are alsoobtaining skills and trades while they’re working as well.
1/6 of children inthe world work in sweatshops (Gaille). The sweatshops also teach children atrade, and gives them an income with their time. In addition, with thesefamilies have their children working as well, it only adds more income to thefamily. It would be better to have the children working insweatshops rather than have them begging in the streets and starving to death.Between the authors, I would agree with Zwolinski more, because the sweatshopsdo in a way contribute to the global poor. I agree that it is better to dosomething rather than nothing at all. These people working for sweatshops aredesperately poor.
It basically comes down to either work in a sweatshop, or dieof starvation. Although sweatshops are unfair, it is a bad idea to prohibit itand make it illegal. Because if sweatshops were to close down, millions ofpeople would be unemployed and it could lead to them dying of starvation.Therefore, making it illegal could just set them back further than they were. Unfortunately,they do not have many options, and closing them down does nothing to get rid ofthat poverty or enhance their options.