Sweatshops

The Department of State supports projects that combat sweatshop labor in overseas factories. Since 2000 nearly $18 million in projects have been funded through this initiative. The Department of State’s Office of International Labor and Corporate Social Responsibility, part of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, promotes these issues in partnership with other organizations.

In the 1990s large corporations such as Nike were criticized for exploiting sweatshop labor in underdeveloped communities. While many Americans might think that sweatshops are a thing of the past, they continue to exist. In 2010 several fires broke out in sweatshop factories in Bangladesh. One particularly devastating fire erupted in a factory outside Dhaka which manufactured clothes for western retailers. It left twenty-nine dead and many more injured. The poorly constructed building trapped workers and forced some to jump to their deaths. Just one month earlier, a clothing factory fire in the same area killed twenty-one and injured dozens of others.