How to stop sweatshops

Written by elizabeth hannigan
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How to stop sweatshops
There are sweatshops operating in the United States. (Sewing machine image by Kumar RR from

A sweatshop is a factory or working environment considered by post-industrialised nations to be unacceptably dangerous for employees. Sweatshops can exist in any country, and often demand long hours from workers for little to no pay. Some workers are imprisoned on the factory grounds and are not free to leave to see their families. Sweatshops may have hazardous materials or machinery, or dangerous working conditions such as inadequate lighting or ventilation. Sweatshops may even employ child labour. The United States Department of Labor estimates that over half of the sewing shops in the United States are sweatshops. If you are a concerned citizen, there are steps you can take to help workers in sweatshops.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Internet
  • Pamphlets or other informative materials

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  1. 1

    Educate yourself about sweatshops. Refer to objective, reliable sources such as governmental publications, university studies and newspapers and learn everything that you can about sweatshops, including their conditions, locations and owners. Do not rely exclusively on blogs and be sure to confirm that all of the information you gather is factual and current. Learn about laws regarding sweatshops and actions other people have taken to end sweatshop labour. Familiarise yourself with arguments in favour of sweatshops so that you are prepared to reason against them.

    You may want to choose a specific type of sweatshop to build your argument against. For example, you could learn everything there is to know about sweatshops in a particular country or sweatshops owned or patronised by a particular manufacturer. This way you can more thoroughly educate yourself about your subject and make stronger, more specific arguments.

  2. 2

    Join an organisation that is already campaigning against sweatshop labour, such as the National Labor Committee. Together, you and the other members of your group can combine your resources and share information about sweatshops. You can also take actions that would be difficult for an individual to take alone, such as staging demonstrations or letter-writing campaigns.

  3. 3

    Form your own local anti-sweat shop organisation. This is a particularly good tactic if you belong to a school, university or religious organisation. Your group can educate the local public about sweatshop abuses and help other, larger organisations to do things like gather signatures for petitions in your community.

  4. 4

    Produce informative literature such as pamphlets or flyers to distribute to your community. Make handouts that explain what sweatshop labour is, where it exists, why it needs to stop and what ordinary citizens can do to help stop it. Print these handouts and distribute them to the public in highly trafficked areas such as college campuses. Make sure that it is legal to distribute literature in your chosen spot. You can also make your own website about sweatshop labour that you can direct interested people to so they learn more detailed information than you can include on your flyer.

  5. 5

    Find out what elected officials in your voting district are responsible for making and passing laws that are either for or against sweatshops and write them letters explaining your position. Demand that sweatshops be stopped. Make your letters convincing by familiarising yourself with all current and proposed laws relating to unfair labour practices. Suggest to your friends and family members that they send similar letters.

  6. 6

    Contact local media such as newspapers or news programs and explain that you are interested in learning more about sweatshops. Find programs and publications that specialise in investigative reports and write them letters that request that they run pieces on sweatshop labour. Find out if any of these sources already have run specials on sweatshops and inform them that you are interested in watching or reading follow-up pieces.

  7. 7

    Write letters to the CEOs of companies that are known to use sweatshop labour. Explain why you believe that these practices should be discontinued. Make sure that your letters are intelligent and courteous, because angry rants are likely to be immediately dismissed.

Tips and warnings

  • No matter how strongly you feel about this cause, never do anything violent or illegal to stop it.

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