(Dis)Assembling Rights of Women Workers Along the Global Assembly Line: Human Rights and the Garment Industry
31 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 383 (1996)
32 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2020
Date Written: 1996
The article examines the challenges garment workers in the U.S. face in asserting their rights in the global economy and investigates how transnational advocacy can be deployed to compensate for the inability of U.S. labor laws to respond to problems with international dimensions. Using a purely domestic U.S. legal framework, advocates can attack the problem of transnational corporations subcontracting in the U.S. Such efforts, however, will have limited effect because of the global nature of the garment industry. Most efforts to change the structure of the garment industry have occurred within the limitations of U.S. law, even while there has been a predominant failure of the U.S. legal system effectively to utilize a human rights framework. Women workers have formed the backbone of the U.S. garment industry throughout its history. The geographic location and racial composition of this workforce has varied as retailers and manufacturers have shifted location of production to lower their labor costs. During the 1800s and early 1900s, the industry was centered primarily in New York City with a large influx of White immigrants providing a vast supply of inexpensive labor.
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