Students Will Simulate Sweatshop Conditions
To Raise Labor Rights Issues
February 7, 2005
Mass. -- The Wellesley Association of Labor
Rights Activists (WALRA) of Wellesley College will hold its third
annual Sweatshop Simulation Wednesday, Feb. 16, from 7 am to 7 pm
in Billings Hall, room 100, of the Schneider Student Center. This
event is free and open to the public.
Simulation tries to replicate many of the conditions of a sweatshop
awareness about labor rights issues. Eight
to ten student volunteers each perform a repetitive task that is
one step in assembling a fabric bag for a 12-hour work day under
fluorescent lighting, loud and constant factory noises, and heat.
They are allowed a few short bathroom breaks and a lunch break,
and the workers will actually receive wages in cash comparable
to those of an overseas sweatshop worker. The product, bags stamped
with the provocative message, “This Bag Was Made In A Sweatshop,” will
be sold during and after the simulation for $5.
"We do not expect that we will know what it is really like
to work in a sweatshop by participating in a simulation for one
day," said organizer Felice Espiritu, a junior at Wellesley
College. "Rather, the sweatshop simulation is a way to raise
awareness about sweatshops through powerful, concrete images. We
want people to start thinking about labor issues, to which we are
all connected to in some way. We are simply putting the indisputable
facts out there, and people can form their own opinions based on
what they see.”
Former WALRA president Liz Mandeville, who graduated last spring,
explained at last year's event that despite the simulation, college
students cannot really imagine what life is like in a real sweatshop:
"I…do not pretend to think that this simulation is
going to help me, or any of the workers understand what it means
to work in a sweatshop day after day, to earn a ridiculously inadequate
wage, to be ignored, abused, mistreated, or denied basic rights,” she
said. “There's no way that I can understand that experience.
I’ll always have enormous privileges in my life. But, as
they say, with great privilege comes great responsibility and so
it is our responsibility as privileged people to bring attention
to human rights violations worldwide."
WALRA will also provide suggestions for how people can channel
their concern into action through an information table with facts
and a petition. This year Northeastern University has joined the
sweatshop simulation movement and will hold its event on the same
day from 9 am-5 pm at the Curry Student Center. Contact Elliott
McGann at 617-359 7240 or firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
For questions or comments about the Sweatshop Simulation or the
organization WALRA, please call Felice Espiritu at 781-283-1277,
e-mail email@example.com, or visit the Web site www.wellesley.edu/Activities/homepage/walra/Index/.