Fighting Against Sweat Shops and Child Labor

Melina-DrugaYou’ve probably never given much thought to where your clothing, accessories and household goods are manufactured.  We purchase these goods from a clean bright store, but the fact is that most of these products are produced by companies that use sweatshops and many also employ children.

Globally, there are estimated to be 250 million 5 to 14 year olds working in sweatshops, according to End Modern Slavery.  Sweatshop workers earn just enough money to purchase food.  The factory owners are able to produce goods at a low cost, yet studies have shown paying workers double their current salaries would only increase the cost of products by 1.8%.

Sweatshops aren’t just a third-world issue.  At the turn of the 21st century, there were more than 11,000 sweatshops in the United States.  These factories violated health and safety codes as well as minimum-wage and overtime laws.

The following companies are innovative because they do not use sweatshops or child labor.


number-1Alta Garcia

The first factory in the developing world to pay a living wage.



Workplace Code of Conduct based on the Core Conventions of the International Labor Organization and the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights


number-3Levi Strauss & Co.

First multinational apparel company to establish a code of conduct


1. Alta Gracia


“Through your purchase of our apparel, you are providing workers hope and a pathway out of poverty.”  – Alta Gracia’s Facebook page.


Founded in 2010, Alta Gracia is headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with factories in the Dominican Republic.  It produces collegiate branded T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts that are sold on 1,600 college campuses.

Workers are paid three times the Dominican Republic’s minimum wage.  In addition, they are provided with a safe work environment, food and water, housing, childcare, education, and transportation.  It is the only company in the developing world to provide its workers with a living wage.

Alta Gracia was named a Shop with a Conscience by SweatFree Communities.

The Dominican Republic is home to 111 clothing and textile companies, according to the Dominican Republic Export and Investment Center.  The sector was $1.48 billion of total exports in 2014 according to The Observatory of Economic Complexity. A quarter of investment in the industry comes from foreign investors in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Europe and South Korea.

In 2015, U.S. imports of apparel made in the Dominican Republic dropped 23% from 2008, according to the American Apparel and Footwear Association.


Social media handles + website











2. Carhartt

“Carhartt. Outworking them all since 1889.”  – Carhartt


Founded in 1889, Carhartt manufactures workwear for men, women and children.  The company was originally headquartered in Detroit, but has relocated to Dearborn, Michigan.  Carhartt became a global company in 1996 when it opened European operations in Amsterdam and established an Internet presence.

According to Think Progress, Carhartt has a “Workplace Code of Conduct based on the Core Conventions of the International Labor Organization and the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.

Carhartt’s corporate website also states it requires its suppliers to sign the same code and that factories have been certified by the independent review organization Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production for its labor and environmental practices.

Apparel manufacturing in North America had a market value of $110.5 billion in 2014, according to MarketLine (2) .  In 2019, manufacturing in the U.S. is forecasted to reach $122 billion.  The retail apparel market is forecasted to be valued at $457.6 billion in 2020.


Social media handles + website










3. Levi Strauss & Co.

“A company doesn’t last 160 years by standing still. It endures by reinventing itself, striving to delight its consumers, winning in the marketplace, and by remaining true to its values.” – Levi Strauss’ LinkedIn page.


Founded in 1853, Levi Strauss is best known for its denim jeans, but it also manufactures the Dockers, Denizen and Signature brands.

In 2013, the company began to move away from a multi-floor factory format that other companies use after a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to Think Progress, Levi Strauss “outlines rules for child and forced labor, working hours and wages, freedom of association, and detailed safety requirements. … When it found that two factories in Bangladesh employed child workers, it decided to keep paying the workers while they attended school and offer them full-time jobs once they were of legal working age rather than fire them.”

In 2015, Levi Strauss reported revenue totaling $4.5 billion, according to the company.  The company, however, saw second-quarter revenue drop 2% and profit drop 76%, according to Denim Club India, as the sales of denim jeans on a whole fell.  Sales were 6% lower than in 2013 with sales among women dropping more than among men.  Customers were abandoning denim for athletic wear.  Customers also didn’t view denim as being new on the market or having established innovations in fabric technology.

From 2014 to 2019, the premium denim jeans market is forecasted to grow 8.12% annually, according to Technavio.  By 2018, the global denim jeans market is forecasted to reach $56 billion in value, according to iReach.  The majority of jeans are manufactured in Asia.  Jean manufacturers will attempt to gain new customers by offering features previously only offered in athletic wear such as moisture wicking and water resistance.


Social media handles + website








Recommended Statistics

Children in employment, child labour and hazardous work














Region -Children in employment, child labour and hazardous work