Friday, September 19, 2008

Traveling Sweatshops

I was reading our forums and the Engrish shirts kicked a thought into my head I just had to post. It’s unusual that I post something I haven’t research or written a journalistic piece for but oh well. Patterns can be broken so here is my thought.

Is it possible, with the evolution of technology and laws, we have gone from brick and mortar sweatshops to traveling ones? Is it no longer neccessary for morons to take “fresh off the boat” people and get them to work cheaply in the horrible conditions of a factory sewing clothing for P. Diddy’s clothing line?

New York City was (and still is) famous for sweatshops. There is no doubt that they exist. But, with the turn of the 21st Century and new technology, sweatshops have become roving businesses. The workers are free to move around outside the walls of those cement prisons but are still treated as they were before with possible a few cents added to the pay.

Here is two classic New York City cases:
DVD Sellers-Chinese women setup a blanket in a subway station and stand there screaming “dvd 5 dolla!”. Also various Chinese people carry giant backpacks full of bootleg dvds. They typically go to places where many people will be sitting around such as fast food places, laundrymats, and walk through the subway trains putting them into people’s faces asking “dvd?!”

Tourist store dropouts-When you visit Chinatown in NYC you automatically see every one of them with many toys and blinking things in front. Well when those aren’t selling there is an alternative way to sell them. We have Chinese people who walk through the trains with random blinking and noisy toys and packs of batteries screaming “Batteries 1 dolla!”.

It’s like a traveling sweatshop for them and they barely understand English more than money terms. No one knows or ever sees who they get the dvds, toys, and batteries from and the police generally don’t care. We have occassional police stings to get major dvd bootleggers but usually there is nothing done to the sweatshop workers as they are just walking around screaming a random phrase over and over agian and walking past people. Will this change anytime soon? Doubtful. I’ll post in the future if anyone ever decides to stop them or change how they are being treated.

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