By Karen Judd
At Thursday’s breakfast forum, Decent Wages and Accountability to Workers in the Garment Global Supply Chain, former New York Times Labor Journalist Steven Greenhouse, whose coverage of the Rana Plaza disaster put global sweatshops again on the front page, said: “Overseas sweatshops are the logical result of globalization and the race to the bottom.” He noted that it is shocking that, 114 years after the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, workers – predominantly women — are working in the same incredibly bad conditions, with no fire escapes or sprinklers, with infrequent inspections and with absolutely no voice for workers, concluding: “Things will not improve unless there is greater pressure from consumers and the media.”
[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRWhuYVlqS0&feature=youtu.be] Continue reading Labor, Accountability and Safety in the Global Era
Dr. Stephen Brier is part of the Consortial Faculty at The Murphy Institute
As if we needed yet another indication that New York University (NYU) exploits its employees (while also blatantly disregarding the needs and desires of its downtown neighbors), The New York Times reports on the deplorable conditions experienced by South Asian contract workers who were brought to build NYU’s glittering monument to its own hubris, the Abu Dhabi campus of the college in the United Arab Emirates. Being forced to pay labor recruiters as much as a year’s wages in order to gain the privilege of working 6 or 7 days a week, 12 hours a day (much like indentured servants in the 17th and 18th centuries), and to live in numbered “labor camps,” which are little more than prisons, led many contract workers to go out on strike for better wages and working conditions. Their efforts were met by stark repression by the Abu Dhabi government. Five years ago, NYU offered a fig-leaf when these conditions in Abu Dhabi were first revealed, claiming it had issued a “Statement of Labor Values,” which turns out not to be worth the paper it was printed on.
This system is a perfect example of who pays the price for academic and cultural globalization and exploitation, a system that NYU and its tin-eared leader, John Sexton, have proudly perfected over the past decade. If you are interested in learning more about conditions in Abu Dhabi, check out this online article by NYU journalism student Kristina Bogos, who visited one of the UAE labor camps.
Updated: 5/20 at 3:30 PM
Responding to the May 19 article in the New York Times, NYU offered “our apologies” to exploited Abu Dhabi contract workers, as reported in a follow-up article in the Times. The Times piece ends with a quotation from Ramkumar Rai, a Nepali immigrant who worked on the Abu Dhabi project who is still waiting for his final six months of pay 16 months after he left the UAE: “When will the money? If the money comes it will be O.K.”
Photo by Nick & Mindy Martin via flickr (CC-BY-NC).