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Sweatshop Jeans Sold on US Bases

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  • Clore Daniel C
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://www.egroups.com/group/smygo Sweatshop jeans sold on U.S. bases, groups say Updated 6:20 PM ET December 5, 2000 By
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 9, 2000
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      News for Anarchists & Activists:

      "Sweatshop" jeans sold on U.S. bases, groups say

      Updated 6:20 PM ET December 5, 2000

      By Adam Entous

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. labor groups, backed by two
      members of Congress, accused the Pentagon on Tuesday of
      offering military personnel blue jeans made in a Nicaraguan
      "sweatshop" and sued to end the factory's alleged abuses.

      The Center for Constitutional Rights, the United
      Steelworkers of America and the textile union UNITE! called
      on the Army and Air Force to put pressure on the jeans'
      supplier, Chentex, to boost wages and improve labor

      To force action, the groups said, they filed suit Tuesday
      against the factory and its Taiwanese owner, Nien Hsing Co.,
      on behalf of the workers, alleging violations of
      international labor rights.

      Democratic Reps. Sherrod Brown and Cynthia McKinney of
      Georgia said they would ask Congress' General Accounting
      Office to investigate U.S. ties with the factory, near the
      Nicaraguan capital of Managua.

      "It must make the U.S. look like a hypocrite if we talk
      about human rights, worker rights, and then have the (U.S.
      military) buy millions of dollars of goods from Chentex in a
      way that violates those very principles," McKinney said.
      "The message sent is that not only does the U.S. government
      tolerate sweatshops, it supports sweatshops."

      Officials with the Pentagon agency that deals with Chentex,
      however, said that conditions at the factory were

      The National Labor Committee for Human Rights, best known
      for a campaign against U.S. entertainer Kathie Lee Gifford
      and Wal-Mart four years ago, alleges that workers at the
      factory were paid 18 cents per pair of jeans.

      When they asked for a raise of 8 cents per pair, hundreds of
      workers were fired, according to the committee. Workers at
      the factory were also allegedly forced to put in long hours
      and endure physical and verbal abuse.

      Citing shipping records, the National Labor Committee says
      Chentex supplies the Pentagon's Army and Air Force Exchange
      Service with blue jeans under the brand names Royal Manor
      and Ponytails. Post exchanges are retail stores run for
      members of the U.S. military and their families at bases in
      the United States and abroad.

      Lawyers said Chentex workers were demanding compensation
      from Nien Hsing and seeking the right to organize and
      bargain collectively.

      Brown and McKinney urged the Pentagon to put pressure on
      Chentex to bring pay levels and working conditions at the
      factory up to internationally recognized standards and to
      reinstate fired workers.

      "Surely our Department of Defense, which pays $500 for a
      hammer, could afford an 8 cent increase in a pair of jeans.
      The United States government is the last place that should
      be supporting and coddling sweatshop labor and the violation
      of human rights," McKinney said.

      The exchange service said in a statement that it had sent
      officials to Nicaragua to investigate allegations against
      Chentex and that "after a two-day inspection, (they) found
      no evidence of 'sweatshop'-type working conditions."

      The Chentex plant also makes jeans for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
      , Kmart Corp., J.C. Penney Co. and Kohl's Corp., according
      to the New York-based National Labor Committee.

      Earlier this year, the anti-sweatshop group organized a
      series of protests at Kohl's stores to draw attention to the
      alleged conditions at the factory.

      Dan Clore

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