Abstract Title

A Call for Responsible Labor Practices in the Apparel Industry Through Improved Standardized Labor Policies

Abstract

97.3 percent of apparel products sold in the United States during 2015 were imported (AAFA, 2016). Since apparel production is often conducted in multiple countries with varying labor laws (Dicken, 2011), it becomes difficult for stakeholders to understand the circumstances and location of where their products are manufactured. Knowledge of product origin is essential for consumer social responsibility, as the apparel industry often suffers a poor reputation for less-than-fair labor practices. This study aimed to investigate the various labor laws that apparel workers are subjected to during the manufacturing of US imported apparel. Therefore, the research question was: What are the differences and similarities between US labor laws, and those of its major exporter countries as well as related international laws? A content analysis was conducted on laws and regulations which were retrieved from government and non-government websites. Preliminary results indicated that, despite immense global trade, labor laws varied significantly across the countries and international platforms to affect labor workers differently. Although the US has easily accessible and specific labor laws governing work environments and worker rights, such was not always the case for its top exporters: China, Vietnam and Mexico (Jones, 2015). These policy differences lead to confusing levels of variance in labor practices between the countries. Thus, in response to the globalized apparel market, national economies might seek to establish a more consistent global standard for labor. The International Labor Organization should supplement such an initiative by more carefully defining their policies in addressing relevant labor issues.

References

American Apparel and Footwear Association. (2016). ApparelStats and ShoeStats 2016 at-a-glance. Retrieved from https://www.wewear.org/assets/1/7/AAFA_Apparel_and_Footwear_Stats_2016.pdf

Dicken, P. (2011). Global shift: Mapping the changing contours of the world economy (6th ed.), New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Jones, J. (2015). Textiles and Apparel: Change in 2014 from 2013. United States International Trade Commission. Retrieved from https://www.usitc.gov/research_and_analysis/trade_shifts_2014/textiles_and_apparel.htm

Modified Abstract

Knowledge of product origin is an essential element of consumer social responsibility, as the apparel industry is often condemned for unfair labor practices. This study investigates labor laws affecting apparel workers during the manufacturing of US imported apparel. The research question is: What are differences and similarities between US labor laws, and those of its major exporter countries as well as related international laws? A content analysis investigates laws and regulations, indicating labor laws vary significantly across the countries and international platforms, affecting labor workers differently. A consistent labor standard should be further established on a national and global scale.

Research Category

Political Sciences/Philosophy/History

Author Information

Elena ClarkFollow

Primary Author's Major

Fashion Merchandisinig

Mentor #1 Information

Dr. Gargi Bhaduri

Presentation Format

Oral

Start Date

21-3-2017 1:00 PM

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Research Area

Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics | Fashion Business | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation | Public Policy

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Mar 21st, 1:00 PM

A Call for Responsible Labor Practices in the Apparel Industry Through Improved Standardized Labor Policies

97.3 percent of apparel products sold in the United States during 2015 were imported (AAFA, 2016). Since apparel production is often conducted in multiple countries with varying labor laws (Dicken, 2011), it becomes difficult for stakeholders to understand the circumstances and location of where their products are manufactured. Knowledge of product origin is essential for consumer social responsibility, as the apparel industry often suffers a poor reputation for less-than-fair labor practices. This study aimed to investigate the various labor laws that apparel workers are subjected to during the manufacturing of US imported apparel. Therefore, the research question was: What are the differences and similarities between US labor laws, and those of its major exporter countries as well as related international laws? A content analysis was conducted on laws and regulations which were retrieved from government and non-government websites. Preliminary results indicated that, despite immense global trade, labor laws varied significantly across the countries and international platforms to affect labor workers differently. Although the US has easily accessible and specific labor laws governing work environments and worker rights, such was not always the case for its top exporters: China, Vietnam and Mexico (Jones, 2015). These policy differences lead to confusing levels of variance in labor practices between the countries. Thus, in response to the globalized apparel market, national economies might seek to establish a more consistent global standard for labor. The International Labor Organization should supplement such an initiative by more carefully defining their policies in addressing relevant labor issues.

References

American Apparel and Footwear Association. (2016). ApparelStats and ShoeStats 2016 at-a-glance. Retrieved from https://www.wewear.org/assets/1/7/AAFA_Apparel_and_Footwear_Stats_2016.pdf

Dicken, P. (2011). Global shift: Mapping the changing contours of the world economy (6th ed.), New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Jones, J. (2015). Textiles and Apparel: Change in 2014 from 2013. United States International Trade Commission. Retrieved from https://www.usitc.gov/research_and_analysis/trade_shifts_2014/textiles_and_apparel.htm