Subsidizing Sweatshops II

How our tax dollars can foster worker rights and economic recovery rather than fuel the race to the bottom

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April 15, 2009-- Subsidizing Sweatshops II, a new report released today by SweatFree Communities, documents severe violations of labor law and human rights in nearly all factories investigated, including:

  • Child labor (14 and 15 year olds work in two factories investigated)
  • Poverty wages (only enough to cover 1/4-1/2 of a family’s basic needs)
  • Excessive production quotas (resulting in 12 hour days, coming to work sick, and limits on bathroom usage)
  • Mandatory pregnancy tests (in two factories, as a requirement of employment)
  • Unhealthy work environment (suffocating heat; dust causing chronic respiratory problems; accidents resulting in puncture wounds and losing fingers)
  • Severe repression of union supporters (harassment, intimidation, firings and, in at least one case, blacklisting)

Download the report

Subsidizing Sweatshops II   (6.0MB)

The report is 60 pages long. Be patient with the download.

Photos from the launch on Tax Day 2009

Media coverage

Media inquiries: Bjorn Claeson, 207-262-7277, Press release (4/15/2009)

4/23: No sweat | Isthmus (Madison, WI)

4/21: The latest corporate social responsibility news: UnEarth Day | CSRwire

4/17: State labor pressure helps Honduran workers | The Daily Gazette (Schenectady, NY)

4/16: Sweating It Out | Crain's New York Business Insider

4/16: Economic Solutions: SweatFree Communities' new report and EFCA | WERU 89.9 (Maine)

4/16: Fair labor activists appeal to state to join consortium | Wisconsin Public Radio

4/15: Tax advocates greet last minutes filers on tax day | Oregon Public Broadcasting

4/15: Activists protest government apparel purchases (click to listen)| WAMC Northeast Public Radio 

4/15: Maine activists launch Subsidizing Sweatshops II from State House (watch online) | WABI TV 5 

4/15: State police uniforms being made in Dominican Republic sweatshop | Maine Public Broadcasting Network

4/15: Rights organization praises Lion Apparel | Dalton Daily News

4/15: Warning on sweatshops issued in Maine | Boston Globe

4/15: Group chides, lauds Ohio company on factory | AP, WTTE Fox 28

4/15: Berkeley set to vote on sweatshop ordinance | San Francisco Chronicle

4/13: SweatFree Wisconsin to protest buying goods from companies with rights violations | Wisconsin State Journal


These fact sheets do not reflect the good ongoing work of many of these public entities to end public procurement from sweatshops.  Ensuring good working conditions in the public supply chain is a long-term process.  The first step is to identify the factories in which uniforms and related items bought by government agencies are made, and to learn about any labor violations in these factories.  Many of the public entities listed below have helped us to connect the dots and deserve credit for that.

Austin, TX

Berkeley, CA

Cuyahoga County, OH

Dallas, TX

District of Columbia

Federal Government





Milwaukee, WI

New York



San Antonio, TX

Seattle, WA



Take action

1)Send a message to your governor.

2) Donate to SweatFree Communities  

3) Organize in your community -- email us to get involved.

Previous research

October 10, 2008: Sweatshop Solutions? Economic ground zero in Bangladesh and Wal-Mart's responsibility

July 1, 2008: Subsidizing Sweatshops I: How our tax dollars fund the race to the bottom, and what cities and states can do