Before you purchase your next backpack from the campus bookstore, take a peek at the label. When winter arrives and you need a new PCC sweatshirt, after looking at the price tag, check out the “made in” tag.You may recognize some of the names, such as China and Mexico but there are some you have probably never heard of, like Lesotho.
What do these places have in common? They are all destinations for apparel companies who outsource their labor to countries that allow exploitation of workers.
In other words, apparel with PCC’s likeness is produced in nations that allow sweatshop labor.
According to the Fair Labor Committee, Jansport backpacks manufactured by the Keng Tau Handbag Company in Guangdong, China, are manufactured by workers who earn 25 to 36 cents per hour.
According to a May 2000 report released by the National Labor Committee, “During the peak season workers are at the factory 14 hours a day, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Some report working to midnight or even 3 a.m. The workers receive one day off per month.”
The report also says, “These factories produce bags, especially backpacks for Nike, Adidas and Jansport, which are exported to the United States.”
Many have never heard of Lesotho. But the U.S. Department of Labor has.
According to its website, www.dol.gov, “Children under the age of 14 work in at least ten different foreign owned factories that assemble garments from imported material and export to the United States. Each factory employs between 500 to 1,500 workers and approximately 5 to 15 percent of the primarily female work force in these garment factories is below the legal age of 16, including many aged 12 to 14.”
The Jansport C.O.R.E. fleece with Pasadena printed horizontally across the chest and PCC underneath is made in Lesotho.
In an email from VF Corp (Jansport’s parent company) to bookstore buyer Carolyn Jerashen, the company states: “By having Jansport in your store you’re actually going with a CLC (collegiate licensing company) licensed and nationally embraced College/University logowear company that has been applauded for our compliance.”
The email read, “Many schools seek us out now due to this important issue and it has won us business over other illegal off-shore manufacturers.”
Aside from Lesotho, China, and Indonesia, Jansport sweatshirts sold in the bookstore also come from Honduras, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Mexico and Guatemala.
The VF Corporate Code of Governance says that factory inspections will be carried out by a VF Compliance Auditor, or by an accredited company, who will grade each factory on their health and safety standards, records and bookkeeping, and even provide. “Random samples of employees will be interviewed to evaluate working conditions at the facility,” it says.
Amanda Teckmen, program coordinator for the NLC said, “Corporate monitoring does not work. Factory managers can hide so many violations from monitors, especially when their visits are announced.”
Teckmen wrote in an email. “Many factory managers keep a double set of books, one for themselves and one to show the monitors. Managers clean up the factory prior to monitor visits-they unlock exits, they clean the bathrooms and put soap and toilet paper in them, they send the children home.
“We found one factory in Jordan where, when monitors were coming, management made all the children go up to the roof so they would not be seen.
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