Staff Editorial

Progress in fight against sweatshops trivial

For as long as The Daily Cougar can remember, students have voiced their concern over sweatshops severely underpaying their employees, and the concern was warranted because many of the sweatshops in question are suppliers of college-logo apparel for American universities.

But protesters can rejoice and relax now, because Knights Apparel, which is the leading supplier of apparel to American universities, has opened a sweatshop that hopes to defy its negatively perceived name; it pays workers a “living salary.”

The salary, which is about $500 a month according to The New York Times, is hardly enough for someone to survive in America, but by sweatshop standards, it’s a huge  leap.

“We’re hoping to prove that doing good can be good business, that they’re not mutually exclusive,” said Knights Apparrel C.E.O. Joseph Bozich in The New York Times. “Obviously we’ll have a higher cost, but we’re pricing the product such that we’re not asking the retailer or the consumer to sacrifice in order to support it.”

The factory has an uncertain future, but it already has orders to make apparel for 400 American universities, the Times reports. But will students, alumni and fans be willing to pay a little extra for the well-being of their fellow man?

And in the end, is a raise to $2.80 that much of a breakthrough? It’s better than it was, for sure, but should we be creating jobs here in America during this tough economy?

Ultimately, we hope that consumers and the general public see this and unite to change the status quo, and eventually the industry will change. Knights Apparel, at its current rate, will be close on the heels of its larger competitors in no time. And given what t-shirts used to cost, it could give the industry a reason to create jobs inside the U.S. and buy American-made products.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, so we’ll just focus on the progress made so far. It surely is a large stride.

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