Social Justice

Factory Workers Plead for Help

Have you heard about the letter hidden by a Chinese factory worker that was found by a woman in Wisconsin who bought some stuff from a Kmart in Oregon?

You can imagine that if I found a letter like this: I would drop everything, fly immediately to China, and offer to adopt all of the factory workers, even the middle-aged women. We have a house now, guys, so we’ve got the room.

Do you want to know what the most ironic part of this whole thing is? She found it wedged between some novelty tombstones. Halloween decorations?!?! People are being punished and tortured and underpaid so that we can buy cheap, novelty decorations that we might use once a year?!?! Is this some sort of alternate universe where humans (who run these companies and factories) have lost the ability to empathize?

What a good reminder that buying cheap crap isn’t worth it. I had to slap my hand away from the New Year’s Eve decorations at Kroger. Would New Year’s Eve hats and novelty sunglasses have made the passing of the new year more fun? Yes. BUT the second question to that line of reasoning should be, “Is it worth the possible human suffering that went into the manufacturing of this product?” That answer is clearly a resounding “Absolutely NOT!”

It’s not only cheap crap either. In the process of doing research while trying to find things that are fairly made, I found a non profit called China Labor Watch that investigates multinational corporations and their suppliers in China. Did YOU know that Apple buys their iphones, which retail for hundreds of dollars, for only $8? EIGHT DOLLARS for all the work and materials that go into making those phones. China Labor Watch reports that workers in Apple supplier factories now make about $250 a month for working 10 hour days, six days a week. Just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s fair.

I’m glad that stories like this are making it into mainstream media because there needs to be more awareness about the circumstances that these people work in.

In researching a little for this post, I came across this photography collection that details the work life of  Chinese factory workers making things like baby dolls, Sponge Bob bubble bath, soccerball candles, Mickey Mouse things, toy cars, and stuffed cows. I read a book a few years ago about rural workers migrating to urban areas and being caught in low-paying jobs that take advantage of them. The commentary on these pictures gives a good overview of what many factories in China are like. If you’re just now learning about all this, it’s a good place to start. See the pictures here.

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