Even during the slowest months of the year, Flory Averalo works 12 and 14 hour days at the Chong Won Fashion factory in the Philippines. During peak production she often works 24 hours straight, with no extra pay for the overtime. When she’s working she’s not even allowed to get a drink of water. Damaris Meza Guillen makes about thirty-three cents an hour inspecting blue jeans at the Mil Colores factory in the Las Mercedes Free Trade Zone in Managua, Nicaragua. Even though she is an efficient worker, she often has to work nights and Saturdays to meet her production quota.
Conditions like these have become the norm for workers in the apparel industry around the world, as retailers like Wal-Mart have demanded unrealistically low prices and high production volume from the factories they do business with, leading factory owners to cut wages, cut corners on safety, and increase hours in a “race to the bottom.”
Maine has become a national leader in the movement to reverse this trend by committing to make sure the apparel the state buys is made under safe and fair conditions. Many Maine retailers have also made a commitment to selling clothing made at unionized factories and worker-owned cooperatives, ensuring that workers have a voice in making sure they are paid and treated fairly.
Learn more about Maine and the “Race to the Bottom."
PICA's current clean clothes work includes Bringing cities and states together to end sweatshops.