New York Raids Alleged Sweatshop
It wasn’t a factory in China or Bangladesh or somewhere in Central America that was charged with paying below minimum wage and forcing workers to labor for long hours without overtime pay. No, the latest factory to be tagged with the “sweatshop” label was found in the borough of Queens, a short trip from the fashion halls of Manhattan.
On Wednesday of this week, New York State’s Department of Labor raided a factory owned by Jin Shun Inc., that investigators said has manufactured goods for Gap, Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret.
According to Labor Department, Shin Jun underpaid more than 100 workers some $3 million in wages since 2005. Before that time, the factory was operated under the name Venture 47. Workers there were not paid some $2.5 million due them.
The company’s supplied by Shin Jun were quick to respond to the New York investigation.
Gap said it did not currently have any goods being produced by the factory and would suspend any future activity until the case was cleared up. The company issued a statement that said it is “committed to doing business in a socially responsible way, and we take this matter extremely seriously. We appreciate the New York Department of Labor bringing this to our attention, and we plan to fully cooperate with authorities to ensure the workers are treated fairly.”
Macy’s told Forbes that it had initiated its own investigation of Shin Jun and that the allegations made against the factory “represent a serious violation of our company’s stringent vendor/supplier code of conduct.”
Limited Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, said, “We are committed to continuing to improve our procedures and programs, and we have a policy of zero tolerance for those vendors and factories that are unwilling or unable to work with us to achieve such compliance.”
Discussion Questions: Do allegations that a retailer is sourcing goods from an unethical supplier, even if still not legally established, hurt the retailer in any substantive way? Do allegations that a sweatshop is being operated domestically have more or less of an impact on consumer opinion than reports of such practices taking place overseas?