American and excreting them. They are also more likely

American
shoppers may not know it, but most of the name-brand products they purchase, from
clothing to carpets to sport equipment is made under deplorable circumstances. Like
images straight out of a Charles Dickens novel: children toiling at age four in
hazardous worksites alongside adults struggling for subsistence level wages is happening
as I write this. The bulk of the child labor abuse in garment sweatshops takes
place in Third World countries. “Around the world, there are at least 73
million child laborers ages 10-14, according to the United Nations’
International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland. The ILO puts the
figure for working children of all ages at up to 200 million, noting that 25
percent of all the children in Africa are working. In Asia, the figure is 18
percent, in Latin America, 7 percent” (Clark 733).

Should
the U.S. crackdown on companies doing businesses with overseas sweatshops? The
dangers of child labor are not always apparent to the employers and parents who
encourage it. Children are less biologically mature and less physically strong,
which makes them more vulnerable to injury and illnesses. If there are chemical
contaminants in the workplace, children are exposed to more of them. Their
bodies have more trouble breaking down chemical toxins and excreting them.  They are also more likely to trip or get caught
in machinery. Finally, children may be said to ‘have a longer shelf-life,’
which means that after exposure to dangerous substances such as benzine or
asbestos, they have more years ahead of them in which to develop diseases.

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Experts
say the child labor problem has worsened in recent years with the connection of
the U.S. retail industry into a few huge corporations. These giants seek competitive
advantages by “outsourcing,” or subcontracting, to low-paying suppliers around
the world. In 1987 the 20 biggest U.S. apparel companies deemed for 33 percent
of domestic sales, according to the Census Bureau. By 1992, the share of the 20
largest had increased to 41 percent of sales. Wal- Mart, K Mart, and J.C.
Penny, to name a few, have emerged as global empires that farm out thousands of
manufacturing contracts (Clark 721).

Proposed Solution(s)

So
far what has been done to crackdown on businesses done with overseas sweatshop
practices is the recognition of chairman of the Commerce subcommittee,
Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota. He sponsored legislation that
would allow U.S. firms to sue competitors whom they believe are selling
imported products made in such factories(Voa). A solution that came to my mind
when thinking of how I would remove or even lessen the amount of companies
doing businesses with overseas sweatshops would be suing competitors that are
buying from these overseas sweatshops. To do that it would have to initially
begin with the citizens of the United States of America. We, the citizens would
have to vote on a law such as giving U.S. firms to sue these competitors
supporting these sweatshops by investing their dollars in them. Just like how
the food industry has a represented U.S. federal executive department called
the USDA, the clothing industry should have one that has a branch that enforces
laws on child labor.

In
terms of taking consideration, companies can take a tour of the facilities and
determine just how their products are being produced. As a former employee of Ross,
I can say that most retails stores if not all have something called a “secret
shopper.” A secret shopper is a person employed by a manufacturer or retailer
to pose as a shopper to assess the quality of customer service and to regulate
if all rules are being followed. Head of U.S. businesses doing business with
overseas sweatshops, should hire individuals to be a secret sweatshops worker
to regulate annually or yearly. Another alternative would be to not just
automatically pick the vendor with the lowest cost, but to ensure that the
quality of product that they are getting from these producers. The most
expensive, would be to follow the Buy American Act (BAA). “The Buy American Act
requires the United States government to prefer U.S.-made products in its purchases”
(Luckey). While various government agencies and government contractors follow
this act, other business can and should do the same. This will not only help
ensure that sweatshop labor is not evolved but will also help stimulate the
American economy and could in fact help them drive up their sales. Child labor
should be made offense under law and strict actions should be taken against those
who motivate it and indulge in spreading this crime. Children should be
enjoying their childhood and attending school. By them doing that, it secures
the future of the nation whose citizens they would be one day.

Summary
and Rebuttal of Opposing Views

Approximately
one-half of all the apparel purchased in the United States last year, over $190
billion worth, was composed of imports made offshore. In Central America and
the Caribbean alone, there are 500,000 mostly young women producing apparel
exclusively for sale in the United States. Honduras has 65,000 to 70,000
maquiladora workers or assembly workers who manufacture apparel and other
labor-intensive goods, mostly for the U.S. It is estimated that about 13
percent of those workers are between 12 and 15 years of age. There are minors
in El Salvador working. There are minors in Guatemala working. There are also children
working in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and many other third world countries. So,
the Wal-Marts and the K Marts and the Nikes and the mass industries, they trot
the world looking for the lowest wages, whether that’s in Honduras at 31 cents
an hour or Nicaragua, 24 cents an hour. Whether that’s El Salvador at 56 cents
an hour. Whether that’s Sri Lanka at 18 cents an hour, or Vietnam at 11 cents
an hour or China at 11 cents. They have these Third World countries competing
against each other. Who will accept the lowest wages? Who will have the lowest
wages, the most miserable working conditions? If retailers and manufacturers
begin to pay a living wage in these countries, sweatshops would be a thing of
the past, and so would child labor, because they could hire their parents, and
the kids could go back to school where they belong. It’s nonsense to think that
companies must hire children(Clark 736). While clothing from the Northern
Marianas made up only about 1 percent of the $29 billion in clothing imported
into the United States last year, it accounts for as much as 20 percent of the
clothing sold by some of the largest American companies. Several big
manufacturers doing business here are silent when asked about labor practices
or about the volume of clothing they import. Spokesmen for Arrow, The Gap, and
Montgomery Ward either did not return phone calls or said they had no comment
on labor conditions in the islands(Shennon).

But
the event also highlighted the challenges facing companies trying to bring
manufacturing jobs back to the United States. Cheaper energy and rising labor
costs in China have helped stabilize manufacturing employment in the U.S. According
to Joseph White and Sue Horton on business rider, there are still roughly 5
million fewer Americans working in factories today than in 1990(Carey). To
decrease the unemployment rate, it would only make sense to open a bunch of
factories here in the United States. Opening the factories will produce more
jobs. The pay would not even have to be high, it could just be a minimum wage. Instead
of competitors risking getting sued by doing business overseas they would
prefer to take the less risky way by doing here in the United States. It shouldn’t because some families
need the money. I think that the kids should get paid more but the idea of
child labor should continue. These kids will help improve the families pension
and learn how to get through tough situations. So, I think that overall with a
little bit of changes that child labor is okay.

Justification

Sk
Nazma who’s a former textile worker in Bangladesh, along with the labor rights
group, Bangladesh Workers’ Solidarity Center has been investigating the labor
practices of a company called Harvest Rich in that country, where clothing is
sewn for Walmart, Haynes, and J.C. Penney. When she began the research in June,
she discovered that hundreds of children, some as young as 11 years old, were
illegally working at Harvest Rich, sometimes for up to 20 hours a day. “Before
clothing shipments had to leave for the United States, there are often
mandatory 19 to 20-hour shifts from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 or 4:00 a.m.,” she
said. “The workers would sleep on the factory floor for a few hours before
getting up for their next shift in the morning. If they did anything wrong,
they were beaten every day”(Voa).

Child
labor should be banned worldwide because it is inhuman to force a child to work
when children of their age play and enjoy their lives. It deprives the child of
their childhood. Child labor is modern slavery. Children have the right to
breathe in clean air and live life like the rest of the children do. These
children who work in industries and in places where there is no hygiene die
because of diseases. They are not given proper medical treatment. Child labor
stunts the development of the children. All of us believe that children are the
future of the nation and if we waste their talents like this then there will be
a dark future.

Conclusion

“Now
a growing movement of U.S. and international officials, union and business
leaders, human rights activists and celebrities has mobilized to challenge
these deep-rooted practices” (Clark 723). “In his final two State of the Union
messages, President Clinton directed attention to the exploitation of child labor overseas. In universities across the country, students have
passionately rallied around this issue. During 1999-2000, students on 175
American campuses organized against international sweatshops in the biggest and
fastest growing social movement among young adults in 40 years. Elementary
school classes have petitioned Disney and Nike to keep child workers out of their factories” (Moskowitz).

The
U.S. should crack down on companies doing businesses with overseas sweatshops.
By giving U.S. firms permission to sue companies that support these sweatshops
who practice unethical practices by investing their dollars in them. The
exploitation of child labor remains a major problem in many developing
countries… There are children abused and deprived of basic needs while in
labor. These affect the physical and psychological state of the child. Imagine
if it were a child that you love that had to be slaving to only receive less
than a dollar for labor. Even put yourself in their place. By cracking down on
businesses done with overseas sweatshops it would create more employment
opportunities.