- April 7, 2020
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24 March 2020
SweatShop Injustice in America
Sweatshopis a term used to describe working environment that has unacceptableworking conditions. The nature of the work is usually difficulthence, jeopardizing the life of the workers. Ideally, the staff toilsfor long hours with little pay. All the laws regarding fairremuneration, child labor, and minimum wage are disregarded. In the18th century, the practice was common due to the high incidences ofslavery and child labor. The employees were subjected to harshworking conditions that put their lives at risk of diseases andinjuries. To make it worse, they were exposed to extended work hours,low wages, and dangerous operation conditions. Despite running forlong hours, the laborers were not given overtime allowances. Theconcept was started in the 18th century, and it is associated withovercrowded workplaces.
Thesisstatement. The sweatshops are a source of social injustice in the U.S becauseemployees have no job security, receive little allowances and theremuneration is manipulative thus, the introduction of a minimumwage is essential to reduce staff exploitation.
Inthe editorial, ‘Justice at Work: Minimum Wage Laws and SocialEquality,’ by Brishen Rogers, the author has quoted Daniel Shaviro,a law and economics thinker. The scholar argues, “The minimum wageis a perverse redistributive tool, for it not only reduces overallefficiency but also "destroys jobs in the low-wage sector of theeconomy and thus hurts many of the people it is intended to help"(Rogers para 7). Shaviro believes that the introduction of the policyrequiring employers to pay a minimum wage would make them cut downthe number of people they hire to control their operation budget(Rogers para 7). President Obama, on the contrary, proposed anincrease of minimum wage as a way to reduce the gap between thewealthy and the poor (Rogers para 6). I agree that the introductionof a fixed basic pay is essential to improve equality among people in
Shavirorecommends reviewing negative income taxes as the best way to help inclosing the income gap (Rogers para 8). Kalim Siddiqui, a professorat University of Huddersfield, UK, cites the tenet of Adam Smith, theauthor of The Wealth of Nations (1776), who shares similar sentimentof repealing the minimum wage regulations. Smith reasoned, “Ifpeople rationally pursue their economic interests in free marketsthey will exhaust all mutually beneficial opportunities to producegoods and exchange with one another” (Siddiqui 15). Smith arguedthat a free labor market would afford employment for everyone sincesome people would work on temporary basis while other would remainjobless because they demand higher wages than the employers canafford (Siddiqui 16).
Nevertheless,the premise of retracting ‘minimum wage’ policies is a gateway toprimitive accumulation. Siddiqui cites Karl Marx (1981) who assertsthat Britain was the first to attain industrial revolution becausethe nation exploited the cheap slave labor of in the extraction ofgold and silver in the American mines. Besides, they exploited thepeasant farmers, and finally forced them to give up their lands tothe large-scale farmers (Siddiqui 24). The slave labor was a majorcontributor to the industrial revolution in England given that thenation depended on the production of affordable raw cotton (Siddiqui24).
Inmy view, the proponents of repealing the minimum wage laws arecapitalists in search of cheap and exploitative labor. Rogers states,“Among other things, a society committed to social equality willseek to ensure decent work-work that enhances rather than underminesworkers` self-respect and social standing” (para 10). Furthermore,the author debunks the misconception that minimum wage policies wouldtrim down the low-wage labor. The statement is backed by empiricalevidence collected in previous studies to prove that pegging thebasic pay would not cause job losses (Rogers para 11). Matthew B.Crawford also observes that minimum wages would not cause decreasedemployment opportunities. Several opponents of Obama’s principleto raise the minimum wages contend that the action would makeemployers unable to retain all the low wage workers they have sincethe cost of production would increase tremendously. Nevertheless, theauthor counters the assumption using a historical labor experience.In 1913, the Ford Automobile Company introduced the conveyor assemblysystem and then increased the remuneration of the workers. Whileseveral workers first quit the jobs to the introduction of the newmanufacturing approach, an increase in the base compensationgradually attracted workers. “Indeed, Ford himself later recognizedhis wage increase as “one of the finest cost-cutting moves we evermade,” as he was able to double, and then triple, the rate at whichcars were assembled by simply speeding up the conveyors” (Crawford28). Bottom line, Ford increase the minimum wage offered to theemployees, but the output did not decrease. In fact, the companydoubled and then tripled its rate of car production, which made itsoperation strategy hard for the competitors to achieve.
Inthe recent past, sweatshops have proven a great menace to laborfreedom in the United States. Although the nation has elaborate laborpolicies intended to protect the employees, some organizations stillfind ways to exploit the employees. Garrin and Marcketti contend,“The idea of social justice implies that there are sociallyconstructed inequalities, which are deeply ingrained in present daysociety, and must be overcome to create an equally just world” (p.76). The authors further assert that it is imperative for thegovernments to find strategies for eliminating to eliminateinequalities, specifically, in the labor industry. The authorsidentify sweatshops as a major topic of social injustice. “Sweatshops were, and continue today, as immoral workplaces whereemployees work long, hours, for minimal pay, in unsafe and unhealthyconditions” (Garrin and Marcketti 79).
Inthe previous years, sweatshop injustice was the leading category ofsocial injustices within the American society. Employees in thegarment factories, as well as hospitality and event management,worked for longer hours under bad environmental conditions. Thesecircumstances included lack of protective gear, small working spacewhere several employees worked in an awful environment such as poorlighting to mention but a few. The job category mainly encompassednon-native English speakers with no passports or visas, immigrants,American citizens from the minority groups and the immigrants (Garrinand Marcketti 76). These factories violate the human rights and theinternal and international laws of labor due to the generation of aworking environment that is not conducive for any human being. Thepractices from the past led to the adoption of the term, sweatshop,to refer to activities linked to unfair, abusive and harsh treatmentof a particular section of workers in a job establishment (Garrin andMarcketti 75).
Theguaranteed way to achieve employee equality would, in turn, involvethe establishment of minimum wages policies. Furthermore, increasingthe base pay, as President Obama had suggested would lead to themotivation of the workers thereby, boosting the output needed togenerate the extra pay that employers would need to remunerate theworkers.
Sweatshopsreflect the poor working conditions in most of the factories andenterprises. It has been associated with the industrialization eraalthough it has emerged in a different form in the contemporaryworld. It is only fair to improve their working conditions throughbetter pay and a conducive environment. All types of ‘sweatshops’must be eliminated as every worker has rights that must be upheld. Inthe contemporary society, policies are changing quickly hence, theneed to have clear minimum wages regulation and legislations as partof long-term strategy to uphold social justice in the U.S.
Crawford,Matthew B. ShopClass as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work.New York: Penguin Books, 2014. Print.
Garrin,Ashley, and Sara Marcketti. “Teaching Social Injustice throughThree Time Periods of Sweatshop History.” InternationalJournal of Costume and Fashion, 15(1),2015, pg. 75-85.
Rogers,Brishen. "Justice at Work: Minimum Wage Laws and SocialEquality." TexasLaw Review.92.6 (2014): 1543-1598.
Siddiqui,Kalim. "Developing Countries` Experience with Neoliberalism andGlobalisation." Researchin Applied Economics4.4 (2012): 12-37.