Yet Another Big Reason to Look for ‘Made in the USA’ When Buying Clothes

Jesús Espinoza

Jesús Espinoza

A new report shows just how murky the fashion supply chain is.

Some people find clothes shopping fun, other think of it more like a chore. But either way, nearly everyone searches for something that’s the right fit in size, functionality and style.

But there’s one more thing you should keep an eye out for: “Made in the USA” on the label.

This label means that purchasing the garment supports American textile jobs and the communities where these jobs are based. Many of these communities have been hit hard by years of offshoring. Besides, clothes made in the U.S. tend to last longer because of their high quality. That means spending less money in the long run.

When our clothes are made abroad, knowing where they’re made, how they’re made and who makes them becomes a lot harder. Trying to find answers to these questions can be disturbing. A recent University of California report shows why.

The report digs deep into fashion supply chains and finds that many fashion companies rely on home-based women and girls from vulnerable groups in India to help make their garments. Many of these garments end up for sale in American and European markets. According to The New York Times, the report finds:

"Most of the women and girls interviewed for the report said they are tasked with the 'finishing touches' of a garment: embroidery, tasseling, fringing, beadwork and buttons. None belonged to a trade union, or had a written agreement for their work, and more than 99 percent were paid less than the state-stipulated minimum wage under Indian law. Minimum wage for an eight-hour work day ranges from the equivalent of $3.08 (39 cents per hour for unskilled work in the state of Rajasthan) to $8.44 ($1.05 per hour for work in New Delhi). According to the report, most home workers received between 50 percent and 90 percent less than they were owed. And approximately 85 percent exclusively worked in supply chains for the export of apparel products to the United States and the European Union."

Wow. A worker earning “between 50 percent and 90 percent less” than what she’s owed? It’s horrifying.

Telling if clothes come from these dismal working conditions is difficult. But as responsible consumers, we can’t support this blatant exploitation that has roots in offshoring.

Next time you go shopping, what can you do to not contribute to a system that kills American jobs and exploits women and girls? Two words: buy American. Only that way clothing manufacturers will know that consumers won’t stand for offshoring jobs and exploitation.

For a list of companies, including clothing companies, that manufacture in the U.S., support American workers and don’t take advantage of the labor of vulnerable people thousands of miles away, check out the Alliance for American Manufacturing Made in America Guide here.


Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder