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Russell Athletic Essay

Do you think that sweatshops can be completely eliminated throughout the world in the near future? Provide an argument as to why you think this can or cannot be achieved.

I think eliminating sweatshop in the near future cannot be achieved. I do believe there will be more restriction set for sweatshops working conditions. Unfortunately, I do not think sweatshops can ever be completely eliminated. I think it will always be a cycle where corporations will take action on improving working standards in sweatshop but they will be never completely gone. A good example that demonstrates this cycle is when the spread of sweatshops were reversed in the U.S. in 1911. The Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire was the first incident to bring awareness of sweatshop conditions, which dramatically reduced the number of sweatshops due to unions organizing improved wages and conditions.

Sweatshops were still never completely eliminated, even with all the improvements made. Many companies found loopholes and worked on the edges of the industry. Meaning they worked in very small sweatshops, which were hard to locate and easier to avoid union organizers. By 1980’s sweatshops were back in large numbers. Then again in 1990 another incident brought the attention of dreadful sweatshop work conditions. Almost 80 years later, sweatshops were still using unfair work condition. That incident is also just in the U.S. For worldwide sweatshops, I believe it will be too hard to regulate in every single country. I think many developing countries still need those job opportunities and agree to work in those certain conditions. It will most likely be a long time before they are ever completely eliminated.

What factors should company consider when planning to open a new manufacturing plant in China or India?

A few factors a company should consider to when planning to open a new manufacturing plant, specifically in China and India is that they are developing countries and a lot of their labor laws may not be as strict as the U.S. China and India’s laws on minimum wage, safety and sanitation are very basic compared to the U.S, which makes it easier for a large corporation to outsource from one of these countries. In result it also can help provide a source of employment in China and India.

Do you think that the public NGOs like USAS should care about labor practices in other countries?

I do think that public NGOs should care about labor practices in other countries. They are who brings the attention to the public when companies are not complying with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is exactly what USAS and WRC did with Russell Athletic. They spent over 10 years conducting independent investigations and issuing public reports on that specific factory. USAS and WRC were successful with the Russell Athletic case and have set a standard for others on how hard NGOs will fight to help unions. They definitely brought attention to a variety of MNCs and stakeholders to take a higher social responsibility for their actions regardless of where they are outsourcing.

Would you agree that Russell Athletic made the right decision by conceding to USAS and union demands? Provide an argument to support your answer.

I do agree that Russell Athletic made the right decision by conceding with the demands. It would have hurt their corporation if they did not comply. The world is in an era of globalization and is too hard for companies to hide their actions from the rest of the world. The USAS and union demand most likely would have never stopped till Russell Athletic made an agreement. They worked over 10 years and now it would be even easier to expose them with all the technological advances.

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