American Made Clothes the Product of Sweatshops in America

made in usa tag
Watching the documentary “The One Percent” I noticed a part of the film that focused on the sweatshops in Latin American countries and the inequality these workers faced being payed merely cents for clothes up to 60 or more american dollars. However, when we think of sweatshops we think of foreign countries in which the laborers are lucky to have a job but we don’t think of the sweatshops located here in the United States. When people go to the store and ask for American made clothes, it is their idea that they are buying clothes that was made without the exploitation of people. An example of this is another documentary “Made In L.A.” which follows the lives of 3 garment workers who are protesting against the clothing store Forever 21 for exploiting their workers. What we see is the way capitalism takes advantage of those whose only choice is to work for cents or have no job at all. There is also the problem that most of these workers are immigrants so they are limited on how they can better their situation. For example, even if the workers decide to do something about it they will run into some obstacles because there isn’t a formal contract saying that they work for that company. As shown in the documentary “Made in L.A.” while garment workers tried to boycott Forever 21 the CEO mentioned he could not do anything for these garment workers because they were not formally hired with the company. This just demonstrated how immigrants are taken advantage for cheap labor. They work from day to night for a couple of dollars while the store sells these garments for hundreds. In an article “Made in America” by Helen Zia there is this case study in which an immigrant couple work for 14-16 hours a day for 7 days and earn about $50 a day but they need to save that money for rent and bills. The couple talked about times when their boss would want them to stay longer and he would bribe them with offering to give them a ride home since the bus would not run that late. This goes to demonstrate the unequal way garment workers are treated here in the United States. It also demonstrates how unaware most people are about the conditions of these workers. Nor do people care because, as demonstrated with the couple, these warehouse owners only want to earn a profit even if it means treating their workers inhumane.


Jocelyn Zamora


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