Oh quit your whining you little girl!


Raveena Aulakh / Toronto Star

The girl pictured above is named Meem.  She is nine years old, lives in Bangladesh and is a boss of a group of children that help make shirts that are sold in the U.S.

Meem and the sewing helpers she supervises earn about $30 a month if they work from 9 to 5 every day, seven days a week or about $35 if they work overtime and stayed until 9 p.m. every day.  At Meem’s factory, there are no weekends, except for a half-day every Friday, no sick leave, no holidays.  And definitely no school.

I learned about Meem when my friend Jack A of clothingmadeinusa let me know about a story and video from the Toronto Star.  I really urge you to read the story and watch the video.  Children should be in school, not sitting on the floor of a factory making shirts 80 hours a week.  But U.S. apparel firms like hiring Bangladeshi firms that hire children like Meem.  Because it lets them make lots of money.  More than 4500 apparel factories in Bangladesh employ four million workers who produce $20 billion worth of apparel each year.  Before your next trip to the mall to try on some very reasonably priced Gap and Old Navy apparel, I urge you to read this report to discover why the Gap and Old Navy can charge the prices they do and still turn a tidy profit.

Attempting to police labor conditions in Bangladesh from your headquarters in New York can be a little tricky.  But there is a simple answer to this problem.  Buy apparel made in the U.S. by members of our extended American family.  Like t-shirts from All American Clothing Co.  for $9.99.  Do you really need a t-shirt that’s cheaper than $9.99?

All American T shirt

The Gap t-shirt sewn by someone in Bangladesh?

gap tshirt

$16.95.  Gee, I wonder who is making money on that deal?  The workers in Bangladesh?  Rather unlikely.

So shame on Gap, shame on Old Navy, shame on all those who profit on the labor of children.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  You have more power than you know.  It’s time to use it every time you go shopping.


About John Briggs

I live in Seattle and love telling stories about Americans, the places where they work and the things that they make. I have just published a book, Simply American, encouraging Americans to purchase American made products; the book can be ordered at www.simply-american.com.
This entry was posted in american made, Apparel, Made in America, made in usa and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Oh quit your whining you little girl!

  1. That little girl could probably defend herself pretty well. We, Americans, all like to forget that there is childhood labor out there, and we try to forget that we are the main drivers of why there is childhood labor. If you want some light reading about childhood labor in Bangladesh, I refer you to a 115 page report published in August 2012,”Child Labor in the Informal Garment Production in Bangladesh”:http://www.dol.gov/ilab/programs/ocft/PDF/2013GarmentBangladesh.pdf. -Jack A

  2. It is amazing that Gap etc can make a t-shirt in a 3rd world country for a $1 and sell it to us for $20 to $40 because it’s from GAP and has 20 cents of ink on it. What makes an f-ing t-shirt worth $40? And what kind of idiot spends that type of money on them?
    If people in Bangladesh were making $10/hr you could justify paying $40 for a t-shirt. You are paying someone a “fair” wage. When I buy my New Balance running shoes I know that some guy in Lawrence, Mass is feeding his family and paying his rent and gets paid tme and a half for over time. I’ve also started buying my work shoes from Allan Edmunds’ shop in Boston. The salesperson in the store lives aorund the corner from my house. How’s that for local?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s