ALBANY, NY — The “Sweat Shop Workers Speak Out Tour,” which includes Honduran and Haitian garment workers, is traveling throughout New York State to highlight the deadly working conditions of the garment industry whose participants work at factories owned and contracted by Gildan Activewear, supplier of New York State Police shirts.
The statewide sponsors of the “Sweat Shop Workers Speak Out Tour” and the “Sweat-Free New York Campaign” include Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, New York State United Teachers, International Labor Rights Forum & Sweatfree Communities, and United Students Against Sweatshops.
Susan DuBois, representing the Solidary Committee of the Capital District, called on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to “insure New York State Agencies do not buy garments from factories with conditions that lead to the Triangle shirt waste factory fire 102 years ago. As companies compete in a global race to the bottom, jobs disappear from New York and working conditions here are threatened.”
Sara Niccoli, Executive Director of the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, which coordinates the Sweat-Free New York Campaign, said, the State of New York spends roughly $43 million on apparel in sweatshops overseas. “Administrative action requiring responsible vendors do not use child and slave labor in the supply chain because it is an easy lift with potential for a huge impact.”
Sharon Carloni, a NYSUT retiree, has seen firsthand the conditions of the sweatshop factories on the U.S./Mexico border. “The laborers work with hazardous chemicals, have impossible per-piece quotas, receive less than a living wage, and have no protection should they become ill or injured on the job,” she said.
Representatives from Gilden Activewear did not respond to requests for comment.