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Sweatshop and Globalization Unit

Sweatshop and Globalization Unit

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Published by: Melissa Adams Livermore on Nov 16, 2010
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Sweatshop and Globalization Unit

By Melissa Livermore
Written 2006-2007 School Year Holy Family Catholic High School 8101 Kochia Lane Victoria, MN 55386 Activity 1 – Where are our clothes made? .......................................................................................2 Data collection and Graphs Activity 2 – Where is the best place to manufacture clothes? .........................................................3 Linear Programming Activity 3 - Can workers live on their wages? .................................................................................5 Budget and internet research Activity 4 – What is a sweatshop anyway? .....................................................................................7 Social Justice Education Activity 5 – Pulling It All Together .................................................................................................8 Reflection and Class Discussion

*Inspired by Gutstein, E. & Peterson, B. (Ed). (2006). Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Rethinking Schools, Ltd.

Activity 1 - Where are our clothes made? Students will bring in their favorite item of clothing. On a note card, students write the country of origin for their article of clothing and its continent by using the categories below. The teacher will distribute post-it notes for them to write the country in which their item was made in on it. Students then attach their post-it to the world map in the front of the classroom. Students will turn in their note card to the teacher. The class will then discuss if there is an emerging pattern and why they think it exists. Using the information on the note cards, students will create graphs to illustrate the distribution of the makers of the clothing using the following categories as defined by wikipedia.com 1. Eurafrasia 1.1 Africa 1.2 Eurasia 1.2.1 Asia 1.2.2 Europe 2. America 2.1 North and Central America 2.2 South America 3. Oceania 3.1 Australia and New Zealand 3.2 Melanesia 3.3 Micronesia 3.4 Polynesia 4. Antarctica


Activity 2 - Where is the best place to manufacture clothes? You are hired by a clothing manufacturer. They are considering locations for production of their sweatshirts and long-sleeved t-shirts. You have been asked to evaluate the locations and report back to the CEO on which location best serves the company. The company already owns the equipment needed for the factory. They know that the new factory needs 100 workers to run the equipment to create their products. They plan on selling their sweatshirts for $50 each and long-sleeved t-shirts for $40 each. The material needed for each sweatshirt costs $4 each and the t-shirts are $3.50 each. The company has budgeted $15,000 for labor costs. Each sweatshirt takes approximately 14.4 minutes and each long-sleeved t-shirt takes approximately 9.18 minutes to create (source: http://www.nlcnet.org/article.php?id=103). Create a report that includes the company’s maximum profit for each country, a detailed list of the constraints relative to each country, and a graph explaining how you determined the maximum profit. Honduras The workers in Honduras make 75 cents per hour and work 6 days a week in 11 hour shifts (source: www.nlcnet.org). Guatemala The workers in Guatemala earn $1.12 per hour and work 12 hour shifts 5 days a week (source: www.nlcnet.org). China The workers in China earn $0.32 per hour. They have 80 hour work weeks. (source: www.nlcnet.org). Ethiopia The workers in Ethiopia earn 25 cents per hour (source: www.zmag.org). They work 75 hour work weeks. Madagascar The workers in Madagascar earn $0.33 per hour (source: www.zmag.org). They have 90 hour work weeks. Nicaragua The workers in Nicaragua earn 41 cents per hour and work 8 hour days (source: www.nlcnet.org). They work 6 days a week. United States The workers in the United States earn $6.00 an hour and work a forty hour work week.


Name(s): __________________________________ To help get you started, answer the following questions: X = number of sweatshirts Y = number of long-sleeved t-shirts

Country: ________________

1. How many hours does it take to make one sweatshirt? (Do not round) 2. What would be the expression for the total number of hours x number of sweatshirts would take to make? 3. How many hours does it take to make one long-sleeved t-shirt? (Do not round) 4. What would be the expression for the total number of hours y number of long-sleeved t-shirts would take to make? 5. How many hours can one worker work in one month? 6. How many hours would 100 workers work in one month? 7. What is the inequality (constraint) for the amount of time the workers can work making sweatshirts and t-shirts? 8. What would be the expression for the worker’s pay? (Remember: Pay = hourly rate * hours and you found total number of hours to make each already) 9. What is the inequality (constraint) for the labor costs? 10. Write the system of inequalities for the constraints: (You should have four equations – two from above questions and the last two restrict the items) 11. Graph the constraints – You will probably want to label each axis in units of 10,000. 12. Identify the vertices. 13. Write the objective quantity using the information on selling price and material cost. 14. What combination of sweatshirts and long-sleeved t-shirts will bring the company the most profit? 15. Write a report or create a presentation for the CEO with your findings.


Activity 3 – Can workers live on their wages? The company has been contacted by a service organization concerned about your potential employees’ well-being. They heard what you were paying your employees in each of the countries you are considering for your new factory and maintain that they cannot sustain themselves (food, shelter, clothing, transportation, etc.) with that amount of pay working the hours you are recommending. The CEO contacts you to investigate this allegation because of your experience. You decide that the best way to determine this is to figure out how much an employee would make per month and compare that with a sample budget that considers all living expenses. In order to do this, you will need to research the average costs of living for each country. Honduras: Monthly Cost Source: http://icsc.un.org/col-csr.asp

Guatemala: Monthly Cost

Source: http://icsc.un.org/col-csr.asp


Madagascar: Monthly Cost Source: http://icsc.un.org/col-csr.asp

Nicaragua: Monthly Cost

Source: http://icsc.un.org/col-csr.asp

China: Monthly Cost Rent: Utilities: Food: Transportation: Entertainment:

Source: http://www.footprintsrecruiting.com NT$10,000 = $301.61 US NT$1,750 = $52.78 US NT$7,500 = $226.21 NT$700 = $21.11 US NT$2,500 = $75.40 US

Ethiopia: Monthly Cost Housing Food Utilities Leisure Transportation United States: Monthly Cost Housing = $1000 Food = $400 Utilities = $300 Leisure = $300 Transportation = $500

Source: http://www.justlanded.com 6000 Rand = $835 US 4000 Rand = $557 US 700 Rand = $98 US 2000 Rand = $278 US 1100 Rand = $153 US


Activity 4 – What is a sweatshop anyway? Watch Sweating for a t-shirt from Global Exchange. Students answer the following video questions: 1. What country did she go to? 2. Who did she go with? 3. What college is she from? 4. List the complaints of the workers. 5. Did they get into a factory to observe? 6. What can you do about it? 7. Your reflection.

Internet Research Include the website that you found your information. Which Catholic Social Teachings are applicable to the experience of the workers? What, as Catholics, are we called to do in response? Make a list of brand-names that you or your family purchases on a regular basis. Are those labels “sweat-free”? What companies advertise themselves as “sweat-free”? List at least five List at least five companies that have cited labor law violations. List at least two companies that have cited violations located in the United States. What can you do about sweatshops and slave labor as a student? – List sites that will help you complete your mission.


Activity 5 – Pulling It All Together Based on all of the information you have collected on each of the countries make a recommendation via a memo to the CEO. You need to support your selection with data. In your memo you do need to address all of your findings. Students then reconvene for a class discussion about their recommendations. Framing Questions What personal obligation do companies have to their employees? What moral obligation do we have as consumers? Who is to blame? How much profit is too much? How much money does a person really need? Do prices really need to increase to increase wages? Isn’t a sweatshop better than unemployment? Are we obligated to help other countries? What does it mean to the US if products are made elsewhere? How do the Catholic Social Teachings apply to the activities we have completed? In what way do they apply? How do we respond?


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