Caption: These guys are protected. Why not workers?
William Greider, writing in the Jan. 29th Nation, asks an interesting question. Here's the background.
Several years ago, American consumers were mortified to discover that some of the collars on their imported coats were made with the fur of cats and dogs. Congress responded by passing the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000, which banned imported garments made with cat or dog fur and "included fines of up to $10,000 for each illegal item and barred repeat violators from importing fur products."
(El Cabrero devoutly hopes that the bill does not apply to those who wear or are worn by live domestic animals or clothing made from other materials and incidentally decorated with cat or dog hair. But I digress...)
Here's the question:
If Congress can protect the rights of dogs and cats in foreign trade, will it do the same for the young girls--some as young as 11--who work in sweatshops? They stitch garments for as little as 6 cents an hour and typically work twelve- to sixteen-hour days, sometimes longer and often in brutal conditions?
Greider reports that anti-sweatshop legislation is in the works. One is modelled on a bill introduced last year by Senator Byron Dorgan and Representative (now Senator) Sherrod Brown.
It bars imports produced under internationally defined "sweatshop" conditions and holds companies accountable for using forced labor or denying basic human rights to workers, including the right to organize.
Even if the proposed legislation doesn't go anywhere soon, this could raise public awareness and force politicians to take a stand on the issues.
ON A TOTALLY DIFFERENT NOTE, this is encouraging.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED