No More Suffering From Sweat
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
7:00 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room
Chie will discuss the horrible working conditions she endured in the U.S. territory of Saipan while making clothing for the Gap. In her struggle to unionize workers, she was forced to leave the island and is now working to educate Americans about inhumane factory conditions worldwide. Co-sponsored by campus academic life (first year seminars/learning communities) and the sociology department.
Issue in Context
Where did you buy the clothes you are wearing today? It is possible your clothes were made in a garment factory by underpaid women and children working in deplorable conditions. In many garment and clothing factories around the world, workers spend prolonged periods of time in dangerous settings, pressured to meet production quotas. Corporations use these “sweatshops” in their production process in order to capitalize on cheap labor costs, boost production, and pursue increased profits at the expense of the human rights and dignity of the human beings who sweat to assemble products for mass consumption.
While some limited progress has been made in establishing regulations and worker rights in some factories, a large percentage remain outside the sphere of global attention. How long will the world allow such factories to exist in their current state of substandard conditions and treatment of people?
About the Speaker
Carmencia “Chie” Abad is a former garment worker who spent six years working in a factory in the United States territory of Saipan for companies such as The Gap. During her time at the factory, Ms. Abad endured poor treatment and dangerous working conditions. Frustrated, Abad tried to organize Saipan’s first garment worker union in order to make progress towards worker rights. When her efforts were blocked by the companies, she traveled to the United States in order to teach others about the existence of “sweatshops.” For the past four years, Abad has been an advocate for the factory garment workers in Saipan and around the world. Thanks in part to her efforts, a class action lawsuit in September of 2002 called for twenty six major retailers to pay back wages to workers and take steps towards improved working conditions. While progress has been made, Abad and others are continuing their struggle.