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Costs and Consequences: Sweated Labor and Consumer Bargains

In: Other Topics

Submitted By scheek555
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In order to make a wide variety of goods available at ever-decreasing prices or to maintain profits, retailers rely on low labor costs and working conditions that are often illegal in the United States. However, should these injustices and abuses be frequently shared? Will American consumers stop shopping at Walmart, for example, who have been known to violate the labor code (Kenny, p. 454)? Not likely. Why? Consumers prefer “rollback savings” and do not consider the “sweated labor” experienced by workers in factories throughout Central America, China, East Asia, and Southeast Asia (Johnson, p. 68). Unfortunately, workers in these areas choose to be exploited in labor and sacrifice their health (Johnson, p. 69) rather than not work at all. These sweatshop conditions are a consequence of globalization. According to Johnson (2014), globalization facilitates the movement of materials, goods, and ideas across continents and national borders. As such, cheap labor offerings allow the flow of inexpensive goods and profit, which Americans value. Moreover, advocates and corporations believe they are helping workers in these developing countries when they buy the products these workers make (Johnson, p. 77). Although the elevating consumption of food and clothing are different from the media products that require less of a local commitment of resources, such as sewing a pair of “Faded Glory” jeans in contrast with printing a “Spider-Man” comic book, sweated labor is the violation of rights of the marginalized workers who do not know their rights. Should we boycott abusive companies (e.g. Walmart, The Gap, etc.), demand corporate accountability, buy only union-made goods, and/or be willing to pay higher prices for goods to ensure fair wages for factory workers? Can our ethical shopping’s influence economic policies? In closing, based on the information in the “Student Voice” section of Chapter 2, pp. 79–80, of our textbook, some Americans are beginning to question our participation in the unequally distributed benefits of free trade.

References
Johnson, J. (2014). Global Issues, Local Arguments: Reading for Writing. Upper Saddle River: Pearson.

Kenny, K. E. (2007). Code or Contract: Whether Wal-Mart's Code of Conduct Creates a Contractual Obligation Between Wal-Mart and the Employees of its Foreign Suppliers. Northwestern Journal Of International Law & Business, 27453.…...

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