The Sweatshop Olympics

Out of nowhere, members of Congress, including Republicans, are outraged that the uniforms for the 2012  U.S. Olympic team are made in China. Some of them even want to burn the uniforms and force the US Olympic Committee to purchase American-made versions.  But what’s outrageous is not that the uniforms are made in China, but that they are made in sweatshops! And the same Republicans who pretend to be outraged at the Olympic Committee’s out-sourcing haven’t lifted a finger to deal with the exploitation of Asian workers toiling for US-based corporations like Wal-Mart, Nike, and most other global companies that produce clothing, toys, and computers. What did they expect? The US Olympic Committee raises its money from private corporations who, in turn, expect their corporate names and logos to be attached to the Olympics in endless ways. The American team uniforms were made by Ralph Lauren which, like almost every other apparel corporation, produces its clothing in Asians sweatshops.  There IS an alternative, however – trade agreements that set standards for workers’ rights.  And for a real-live example of a clothing factory that respects workers’ rights, read about the Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republican, which I wrote about for the Nation last year.   (By the way, most American flags are made in China!!)

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