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SweatX.
June 3, 2002 3:52 PM   Subscribe

SweatX. An interesting find, from MarketPlace (NPR).
posted by BlueTrain (16 comments total)

 
This is America at its best! The union and management get together to push items they manufacture and coax buyers into supporting their product out of feelings of guilt...both management and the union benefit.
I sound snippy, right? Well, I don't mean to be because when American firms make things overseas they do not pass on labor savings to the consumer but instead just reap larger margins of profit, ie, Nike, which sells its shoe for top bucks though having cut costs.
posted by Postroad at 4:02 PM on June 3, 2002


Interesting idea, ugly clothes. Appealing to consumer conscience is not a bad tactic, Postroad, but I don't know how effective it will be. It seems like this shouldn't be the major marketing point for your product... "our clothes might be ugly and overpriced, but at least they weren't made in sweatshops"

It will probably serve a small niche market, but most Americans are perfectly happy going to the regular department stores and looking for 'Made In the USA' stickers.
posted by insomnyuk at 4:15 PM on June 3, 2002


Because the only jobs the third world should have are subsistence agriculture and driving trucks of donated food. Sounds like a workable strategy!
posted by dhartung at 4:42 PM on June 3, 2002


Hmm...it's true that this is basically 'Made in the USA' for lefties. If the whole point is to combat sweatshops in Los Angeles then it seems a good idea. But most people make the link to sweatshops in the Far East, and that's what this implies:
The threat of jobs moving wherever and whenever labor is cheapest is impossible to defeat given present economic paradigms governing the industry.

So in that respect it does seem more about guilt than anything else. How does it help people in sweatshops to buy these clothes? Consumers feel guilty about buying clothes made in Asian sweatshops; but it's not in the interests of sweatshop workers there to buy these clothes. What's in their interests is to pressure the companies to impose tighter regulations on their factories. So this kind of advertising is at least partially misleading, though not cynical I guess. Anyway, perhaps that's over-analysing...
posted by Gaz at 4:44 PM on June 3, 2002


Hah, excellent,

iii. There are many definitions of a sweat-shop, depending upon who is talking, but SweatX intends to raise all standards above most anyone's idea of "sweat-free" by:


(1) Paying liveable wages, including employer-paid health-care and pensions.


(2) Including genuine workplace democracy through an independent union, chosen by the workers. The best factory monitor is a unionized worker.


(3) Enhancing workplace democracy by structuring the operation as a worker-owned co-operative in which employees are ultimately empowered with the knowledge and meaningful ability to enact policies for successful operation of the factory.


Maybe they should try helping the americans who live this way first...
posted by bittennails at 4:52 PM on June 3, 2002


Wait! I think I hear singing!
posted by groundhog at 5:11 PM on June 3, 2002


I can chaa...aaaange the world,
If I could be the sunshine in your life...
posted by bittennails at 5:22 PM on June 3, 2002


I heard the same report on the drive home, a piece delivered by Ben Cohen (the Ben of "Ben & Jerry's") about the clothing company he's now running.

The point of his company is not simply to do the politically correct thing. After looking at the financial differences between clothes produced in non-sweatshop outfits and those in the sweatshop cases he found only a 5% difference in the final cost to consumers in like products.
"It's $1 on a $20 shirt".

So he applied the same principles he used when creating Ben and Jerry's: Find other places to cut costs besides labor (better, more efficient machinery) and keep the employees happy - thus increasing production. Furthermore, he let unions in from the outset and made every employee an owner in the company.

I, for one, would like to see it work.
posted by Qubit at 6:42 PM on June 3, 2002


One of the things that got me from that NPR report was how clothing manufacturers can put "Made in the USA" tags on their clothing when the factories are actually in American Samoa. This allows them to get the pr value of the label while paying workers 3$ an hour in substandard conditions.

Nice, ey?
posted by jeremias at 7:00 PM on June 3, 2002


when American firms make things overseas they do not pass on labor savings to the consumer but instead just reap larger margins of profit

...which are then passed on to INVESTORS, who really enjoy higher profits and use them to fuel their dreams, kid's college education, retirement, etc.
posted by davidmsc at 8:04 PM on June 3, 2002


Express yourself.
posted by hobbes at 8:43 PM on June 3, 2002


Marketplace is a production of Public Radio International, not National Public Radio.
posted by sudama at 4:27 AM on June 4, 2002


In part, what Ben was talking about was making people aware of the issues surrounding sweatshops. If SweatX gets people to start thinking about the issue in a different way, then it's a success in my book.

Spin, that's what everything is about these days, right? He's starting from that angle. BUT he's also putting his $$ where his mouth is. So, whatever the shortcomings of this project might be, it's a step in the right direction, IMHO.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 6:05 AM on June 4, 2002


Hey, I have an idea... instead of buying feel-good clothing with feel-good Made In USA labels on them to keep Chinese kids from having to work in a building instead of a rice paddy, why don't Americans stop worrying about wearing "fashionable" clothing and looking "cool?"

Feeling good is useless if you don't look good, I guess.
posted by bondcliff at 6:19 AM on June 4, 2002


Because the only jobs the third world should have are subsistence agriculture and driving trucks of donated food. Sounds like a workable strategy!

Dan, can you explain what you mean by this? You don't find that this is an attractive option for the consumer who cares where and under what conditions their clothes are made? Should a company that serves this segment be criticized for depriving third world countries of jobs and the much debatable modernization? I'm not sure I understand your objection and I'd like to as yours if one of the more well thought out voices I read here.

As for the actual products - I wish they would just produce some basic staple goods (white t-shirts, boxers, socks) without any of the branding that their target market (I assume) probably has grown tired of.
posted by buddha9090 at 12:44 PM on June 4, 2002


...which are then passed on to INVESTORS, who really enjoy higher profits and use them to fuel their dreams, kid's college education, retirement, etc.

...or they use the returns for less noble goals. Anyway, if you can afford a stock portfolio that is going to make you a significant amount of money, you are already a lot closer to those dreams and goals than most people.
posted by bingo at 5:03 PM on June 4, 2002


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