It’s A Small World After All

By Nanor Abkarian
Asbarez Summer Intern

The people of Disney exceed in creating wonders–but have left me wondering why they are not content with the amount of money they have. People associate Disney with cheerfulness and amusement–but while Disney yields to our childhood fantasies it preys on those desperate for work. Even though I loved my Mickey Mouse toy–I would have never imagined there was another girl my age forced to make it for the sake of her survival.

Disney is definitely not a company that is short of money–but like many other large corporations–has decided to use sweatshops to manufacture its products. While workers break their backs to get paid barely enough to survive–monster corporations are willing to disregard all standards in order to smother themselves with extra cash. They are constantly in search of the cheapest way to manufacture goods–legally or illegally–and persistent when fulfilling financial goals–no matter how unethical the process. And so–in an effort to gain US investmen’s–third world nations are competing against each other to produce goods for the lowest possible price. Such factories are located in: Bangladesh–Burma–Cambodia–China–Colombia–Dominican Republic–El Salvador–Guatemala–Haiti–Honduras–India–Indonesia–Jamaica–Malaysia–Mexico–Nicaragua–Oman–Pakistan–Peru–Philippines–Romania–Sri Lanka–Thailand–Turkey–and Vietnam.

Disney pulled its work out of the Shah Makhdum factory in Bangladesh–after having produced garmen’s there for about eight years–when the courageous factory workers protested in public–seeking their basic rights.

Disney has had factories in Haiti where it produced clothing such as Pocahontas T-shirts and Lion King outfits for kids. In September 1997–Disney pulled out its work from that factory–and two others–after the workers "publicly denounced factory violations and asked that their fundamental legal rights be respected." Once again–the workers were left unemployed.

Disney also left its factories in Shenzen–China where it produced toys to give away as part of McDonald’s Happy Meals. When the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee revealed that the factory violated the workers’ rights and maintained unsafe working conditions–both Disney and McDonalds pulled out of the factory–leaving tens of thousands of workers jobless. Some other companies that use sweatshops include: Nike–Wal-Mart–Phillips-Van Heusen–Disney–Guess–The Gap–Banana Republic–Old Navy–Tommy Hilfiger–Reebok–Levi Straus–Liz Claiborne–Ralph Lauren–Mattel–and Kohl’s.

Actress/singer Kathie Lee Gifford was embarrassed in public in 1996 when investigators from the National Labor Committee found that girls of ages 13-15 were being unfairly treated in the Global Fashion plant in Honduras–working up to 75 hours a week for 31 cents an hour.

Even after Kathie Lee was–with good reason–famously humiliated for her cruelty and greediness–Disney is still able to continue disregarding laws and lives without being punished due to its ownership of several large media outlets–among everything else.

Consumers can do most to help end the use of sweatshops by boycotting products that have been made in sweatshops and instead–shopp from companies and unions such as "No Sweat" or "American Apparel," who manufacture sweat-free products.

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