Sweatshops are sources of cheap and ample labor, and are the result of our global economy, with the constant demand for cheaper and better products by consumers. They are generally defined as "a workplace where workers are subject to extreme exploitation, including the absence of a living wage or benefits, poor working conditions, and arbitrary discipline, such as verbal and physical abuse (Sweatshop Watch)." With ever-increasing globalization, human rights issues and the existence of sweatshops have become hotly debated topics. Large corporations are in a "race to the bottom" of wages in order to increase profits and keep buyers happy (Bas 1). U.S. designers and retailers such as Nike, Gap, Wal-Mart, and Guess? are hopping the globe in an effort to find cheap sources of labor to exploit. Workers all over the world, particularly in Southeast Asia, are wrongfully subjected to unsafe and inhumane conditions for extremely low wages. .
Vietnam is a poor country in southeastern Asia which has been struggling in a capitalist economy. At times, the Vietnamese government has opened its doors to sweatshop labor in order to decrease poverty and unemployment (Doan 2). Nike, which employs .
550, 000 workers in 700 factories in 50 countries, mostly in Asia, has taken advantage of this and is making huge profits (Beder 2).
Nike's use of sweatshops in Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam, Indonesia, and China, is one of the most high-profile cases involving the rights of workers in foreign countries. In a C.B.S. News 48 Hours special investigation, it was reported that Nike factory workers were abused, both physically and mentally, did not receive proper health care, and earned less than the Vietnamese minimum wage (48 Hours). A study done by Vietnam Labor Watch reported on the abuses, working conditions, and health practices in Nike plants. This study has shown that more than ninety percent of Nike factory workers in Vietnam are women, usually from rural areas where they are not taught about their rights, most between the ages of fifteen and twenty-eight (Doan 4).