sweatshops

The US General Accounting Office defines a sweatshop as a business that regularly violates wage, child labor, health and/or safety laws. While sweatshop abuses in the garment industry have been an issue of public concern for decades, few people know about the sweatshops of the booming electronics industry. Behind the gleaming facade of the high tech industry are thousands of low-paid, mostly immigrant women, who assemble the nuts and bolts of our computers using hundreds of toxic chemicals. January 14, 1999 The San Francisco Chronicle William Carlsen, Staff Writer Thousands of Asian women are forced to work under slavery-like conditions on the U.S. commonwealth island of Saipan making clothing that top garment retailers are selling for huge profits, according to a sweeping lawsuit filed yesterday in San Francisco. In a series of suits filed in state and federal court, human rights groups claim that foreign clothing firms are passing off the apparel as ”Made in the USA.” Because of Saipan’s commonwealth status, retailers have avoided more than $200 million in tariffs. Lawyers filing the suits yesterday described inhumane working and living conditions on the island, including long hours of work at sub- minimum wages, poor ventilation in hotbox factories, physical abuse — including forced abortions — and concentration-camp rat-infested living conditions, complete with guarded barb-wire compounds. The three suits, filed in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Saipan, name as defendants the Gap, Nordstrom, Tommy Hilfiger, May Co., Sears, Wal-Mart and most of the big names in clothing and retail, as well as a number of apparel manufacturers and contractors. The class-action suits, which seek $1 billion in lost wages and damages, were brought …

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