Walt Disney
Consumers can play an important role in closing sweatshops, and they have a
right to know what companies are using sweatshops to produce their product there
are simple steps consumers can take to help fight against the use of sweatshops.

Right now many famous companies are using sweatshops readily to save money.

However, ironically, the companies that use them are the companies that can
afford to spend the extra money for regular labor. Some of these name brand
companies include; Nike, Disney, Kathie- Lee Gifford, Gap, Liz Claiborne, Ralph

Lauren, and Wal-Mart. Many people have no idea that these companies are using
sweatshops. Disney for example is a very well known company. No one would ever
expect that their favorite childhood Disney memory could have been created
through sweatshops and child labor. Disney is just one of the many well
respected, loved companies with dark secrets. It is hard to believe as a
consumer that a company that consumers have grown to trust and love uses such
forced labor, with underaged sweatshop employees making consumers favorite
characters come to life. Well, Peter and Rochelle Schweizer makes it clear that
it could be a possibility: " The face of Disney the manufacturer is not a
pretty one. All too often Disney clothes, toys, and trinkets are made by child
laborers. Disney licensees have been caught using child labor on three
continents" (245). Many other companies are practicing the same type of labor
policies without consumersís knowledge. If companies feel that sweatshops are
a decent and fair way of doing business and have no problems with continuing to
use them, they should at least make these reasons public and confront their
consumersís concerns. They should let their consumers know why they choose to
conduct their business in this manner. Consumers would then have the real
information on the product that they choose, and not only what the company wants
them to Mueckler 2 know. Consumers would then be able to base their product
choice on work place conditions as well as the over all product information.

Some companiesís use of sweatshops have been made public. Kathie-Lee

Giffordís designer clothes company for example was widely evident in the news
in 1996. Gifford was shocked when she heard of the sweatshop conditions her
company was using. Since this Gifford has been involved in organizing the

Apparel Industry Partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor. This
organization tries to crack down on the use of child labor. This is one example
of where the public influenced a company to change its policies. This gives hope
that with consumer support other companies can be influenced in similar ways.

Disney, however, has not been so noteworthy in their efforts. Disney licensees
go out of their way to bring their company to countries such as Burma, where the
practice of child labor is a normal everyday event, and they exploit this to
create their product as cheaply as possible. Schweizer explains how remote the
locations that Disney licensees use, " For years Disney licensees were
manufacturing in a country few Americans could locate on a map. Burma- also
known as Myanmar, the name given it by the ruling military junta- is a poverty -
stricken nation wedged between India, China, and the lush mountains of

Thailand." (251). This is an ideal location because so few people are aware of
it. This makes it easy for the Disney licensees to continue their business
without being detected. Another insight to Burma is that drug lords hold great
power and are protected by the government. Disney licensees had to get the
permission to have sweatshops in Burma from these drug lords. This shows how the
drug lords are the ones with the power in Burma. First companies must win the
respect of these drug lords before they are able to work there. " Burmaís
attraction as a manufacturing site is obvious: ultracheap labor." (252).

Mueckler 3 When consumers and human rights groups along with labor organizations
took action in 1996, they did get a response from Disney. The National Labor

Committee and other organizations together made Disneyís involvement in Burma
public with the Free Burma Campaign. Disney denied these claims. They pretended
they had no involvement in Burma. They knew how the negative public announcement
would hurt the company, which is the major reason why companies hide the facts
from the consumers. Schweizer explains that many other respectable companies
have volunteered to monitor their working conditions, however, Disney is not one
of them. This shows that Disney is aware that the problem of sweatshop exists in
their licensees operation. Disney may have changed