Globalization and Cross-Border Labor Solidarity in the Americas: The Anti-Sweatshop Movement and the Struggle for Social Justice

By Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval | Go to book overview

Notes

Chapter 1

1.
William Blake coined this phrase in the novel Milton (1808). Devon Peña's Terror of the Machine: Technology, Work, Gender, and Ecology on the U.S.-Mexico Border (Center for Mexican-American Studies: University of Texas Press, 1997), 25-26 discusses how Marx used Blake's metaphor in Capital (1867 [1977]) to critique the widespread exploitation that existed within English textile factories. Marx's collaborator, Friedrich Engels, incidentally, examined these abysmal conditions twenty years before Capital in The Condition of the English Working Class (1845 [1958]).
2.
This “historical background” is based on the following sources-Daniel Bender, Sweated Work, Weak Bodies: Anti-Sweatshop Campaigns and Languages of Labor (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2004); Daniel Bender and Richard Greenwald, Sweatshop USA: The American Sweatshop in Historical and Global Perspective (New York: Routledge, 2003); Miriam Ching Yoon Louie. Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take on the Global Factory (Boston: South End Press, 2001); Peter Liebhold and Harry R. Rubenstein, Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A History of American Sweatshops, 1820- Present (Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center and Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance, 1999); Sweatshop Watch, “Frequently Asked Questions” (www.sweatshopwatch.org). I should point out here that there is no one single, commonly accepted definition for what constitutes a “sweatshop” today. In Behind the Label: Inequality in the Los Angeles Apparel Industry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000) 3, Edna Bonacich and Richard Appelbaum define a sweatshop as a “factory or a homework operation that engages in multiple violations of the law, typically the non-payment of minimum or overtime wages and various violations of health and safety regulations.” Sweatshop Watch, moreover, claims “a sweatshop is a workplace where workers are subject to extreme exploitation, including the absence of a living wage or benefits, poor working conditions, and arbitrary discipline, such as verbal and physical abuse.” Based on these two definitions, the word “sweatshop” will loosely mean “garment factories with very low wages and poor working conditions” for the purposes of this study.
3.
Homework was a common feature in the garment and needle-trade industries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For more a detailed analysis of this issue, see Eileen Boris, Home To Work: Motherhood and the Politics of Industrial Homework in the United States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994).
4.
For more on the history of sweatshops within the United States, as well as strikes and organizing campaigns against them, see Bender (2004); Nancy Dye, As Equals and As Sisters: Feminism, the Labor Movement, and the Women's Trade Union League of New York (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1980); Alan Howard, “Labor, History, and Sweatshops in the New Global Economy, ” in No Sweat: Fashion, Free Trade, and the Rights of

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