Previously published in Examiner
Part 8 of the Horrendous Conditions of Sweatshops series
The first legislation in America against sweatshop practices actually was effectuated in 1893. Florence Kelly’s campaign in Chicago was formulated to address the issue of public health. Kelly, who was the Illinois factory inspector, worked at the state level to set the working norms of the day. She worked to have the working hours cut for women and children workers and she got the legal requirement for factory and workshop inspections approved. However, the Illinois Supreme Court would later declare portions of the anti-sweatshop law regarding 8-hour workdays unconstitutional. Debate went on for years about this kind of legislation. After 1908, a 10-hour legislation was put in affect in Ohio.
Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act
Legislation was passed in 2006, to ban the import or export of sweatshop products in America. The National Labor Committee with the help of the United Steelworkers of America introduced senate bill 3485.
Still there is room for more legislation to get factories to clean up their act or shutdown. The cheep wages is an economic necessity in some cases; however. that practice should never be at the expense of the factory workers. Private sector profit and greed should never come before public welfare.
For more information on the Montreal needle trade and the horrendous sweatshop situation in Montreal
Centre des Travailleurs et Travailleuses Immigrants / Immigrant Workers Centre (CTI-IWC)