Bangladesh has about 4,500 Garment Factories because they have no Unions

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 4th, 2013

Week in Review

The union workforce in the private sector has shrunk from its peak in the Fifties.  Falling from about 30% of all workers belonging to a union down to about 11%.  Why?  Well, consider the industries they once dominated.  Textiles.  Steel.  Automotive.  Ship building.  Industries that went from world dominance to being a shell of their former selves.  This is why union workforce has fallen so greatly in the private sector.  Because the high cost of union labor destroyed these industries.

Those on the left want to bring these jobs back.  Despite hating these jobs.  Which is why they unionized them.  They were dirty, dangerous, monotonous and inhuman.  Right out of a Dickens novel.  Or the worst of capitalism Karl Marx could rail against.  Now that we don’t have them they call these good manufacturing jobs.  Not those same jobs they went on strike from in order to get better pay and more humane working conditions.  And say it is a crime that someone else is now exploiting their workers doing these jobs Americans should be doing.  Only the labor costs and working conditions in these countries are such that they will never come back to America.  For as bad as they may be at times they have no problem staffing these factories.  As American workers would have done had it not been for the unions forcing these jobs offshore.  And the American factories no doubt would have been safer (see Shoppers face tough choices over Bangladesh by Emily Jane Fox posted 5/1/2013 on CNNMoney).

It is hard for American shoppers to avoid buying clothes made in unsafe factories abroad.

That’s because just about all, or 98%, of clothes sold in the U.S. are made overseas, according to the Apparel and Footwear Association. Also, companies don’t tell consumers if any of their suppliers violate safety standards.

The recent spate of deadly accidents in garment factories in Bangladesh has caught international attention. Last week, more than 400 workers were killed when a garment factory building collapsed. The tragedy follows two more factory fires in November that killed and injured more than 100 workers.

A very large portion of U.S. apparel imports comes from Bangladesh. Many companies have been shifting orders there, because labor costs in the country are so low. Bangladesh is on track to surpass China within the next seven years as the largest apparel manufacturer in the world…

Bangladesh has about 4,500 garment factories that make clothes for global retailers…

“Companies don’t want consumers to understand the reality of what’s going on — the labor abuses, the low wages — that make products for the U.S. market,” Nova said. “Customers do care, but they don’t have enough information about where and how products are made to react.”

The United States used to have a booming textile industry.  And because of that they had a booming garment industry.  But they don’t have either any more.  Why?  These industries unionized.  Labor costs went up.  Which raised their selling prices.  This, of course, reduced sales volume.  For lower-income people could not afford to buy the same amount of clothes they once did at these higher prices.  Rich people could.  But not lower-income people.  The vast majority of the buying public.  Unable to make clothing average working Americans could afford U.S. garment manufacturers closed down.  Or moved offshore.  Killing the U.S. garment industry.  As well as the U.S. textile industry.

This is why Bangladesh has about 4,500 garment factories.  Because they can make clothing lower-income people can afford.

Customers care?  And if they had enough information they would…what?  Say, “That’s it.  I’m done buying affordable clothing.  For now on I will pay for only the clothing that I cannot afford.”  Yes, of course that’s what they will say.  But they won’t be able to afford to do that.

Buying clothes is a lot like eating meat.  We like it.  We enjoy it.  But we don’t want to think about the slaughterhouse.  And so it is with our affordable clothing.  We like it.  We enjoy being able to send our kids to school in something nice and clean every day.  But we don’t want to think about the working conditions in those factories.  And trust our retailers that they do everything within their power to make those working conditions meet acceptable standards.  When they don’t they will be the first to raise their moral outrage.  While no doubt wearing something from those factories.  Because like those factory workers there just isn’t a better alternative.

If a country can staff 4,500 garment factories these must be the best jobs available.  Or the only ones.  Like in China in those export factories.  Which attract people from the rural interior regions.  Who are trying to escape their chronic hunger.  And occasional famine.  So while organized labor bemoans the loss of the high pay and generous benefit packages of those manufacturing jobs the people working in these factories are probably living better than they ever have.  Despite the occasional collapsed factory.  Or factory fire.

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