Over 85% of the toys coming into this country for sale are from China, according to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. More reports today come in about a shipment of children’s shoes from China that contain lead. Anything with dye or paint in it (ahem, that’s about everything), may contain lead. (Here‘s a reminder why lead is so poisonous, especially to children). You see, China has no rules against including poison in their products. They have no OSHA, they have no unions.
Why should that matter to the US? We are buying and consuming Chinese goods at a breakneck speed, by doing that we are exposing ourselves to whatever residual nastiness may have resulted in the creation of that product – like lead. At the same time, we are supporting and encouraging those businesses and factories that underpay and exploit workers. Foxconn, a factory recently exposed due to it’s involvement with Apple products, was paying many workers less than $17 per day and they were working for 6 days a week without proper overtime. Now that they have been exposed by whisteblowers, they will be raising monthly pay to $400.
Anti union voters of Wisconsin and those that oppose collective bargaining rights must think the Chinese are doing something right. They are hoping to bring this style of exploitative labor to the U.S.
Imagine for a moment, raising your family or even living alone on $400 per week. For a typical American, that amount likely does not cover even one of the basic bills of survival – shelter, food, or energy consumption. Making that kind of wage would mean having to move to more affordable group housing, it would mean foodstamps (without that, it would mean serious hunger), it would mean that you could not afford to take care of yourself even though your life was dedicated to working.
I think it’s wrong.
It’s wrong to ask someone to spend 40+hours a week assembling (lead tainted) baby shoes, snapping together toys, or sewing seams and then not even give them enough compensation to survive the rest of the week. It’s wrong to expose them (and the consumer) to lead and other toxins, unbeknownst to them. It’s wrong to occupy all but their sleeping hours just because the system allows it.
Check this video out that gives a peek on how workers live:
Collective bargaining is the way that we band together, holding hands, standing on each other’s shoulders so that we can match the strength of a corporation. Without collective bargaining, the corporation feels free to exploit and crush individual workers as is needed. When it’s every man for himself, an exhausted, uninformed, single worker does not have the power to negotiate humane conditions and living wages – this is apparent in that millions of non-union American workers find it tough to make ends meet on their minimum wages.
We’ve already established the value in this country, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall“. In this country right now, it feels like we are falling. Symbolically, Wisconsin has rejected collective bargaining – they rejected the idea that our fellow Americans can band with us to get a fair deal. Politically, reports having been coming out that Americans are more politically divided than ever.
The question that underlies is: How United are We?