Conditions of labor.

pages 111-112 of Baxter, Laura and Alpha Latzke. Modern Clothing: A Text for the High School Girl. Chicago: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1938.


Conditions of labor.  The conditions under which goods are produced are indirectly the responsibility of the shopper. Desirable conditions include good sanitation, provision for proper lighting, protection against hazards, and assurance of safety. Further important conditions include employment of adults only, a fair rate of pay for the job, reasonable working hours, and a fair consideration of the worker as an individual. Such conditions of labor prevail in many mills and factories in our contry. However, there are still far too many factories that may be justly described as places of sweatshop labor. Sweatshop labor is commonly done in the tenement room of the worker, and pay is so pitiably low that even the longest hours of work will not yield a wage sufficient for the necessities of life, not to mention the requirements for decent living.

The disgraceful conditions described in Thomas Hood’s poem, “The Song of the Shirt,” are still with us. Do you know this poem? Its refrain is, Stitch, stitch, stitch/In poverty, hunger, and dirt/And still with a voice of dolorous pitch/She sang the song of the shirt.

No one can avoid having a sense of shame if he secures values or satisfactions at the expense of others’ miseries. it is thus the responsibility of the shopper to demand that the goods she buys shall be produced under conditions fair to the worker. This requires willingness to pay a fair price, but that alone is not enough. She must demand that the goods she buys shall bear a label carrying the assurance that they have been produced under desirable conditions. In this way she may make her shopping serve not only her need for certain articles but also her need for sharing in the building of better social and economic conditions in her country.


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