Stitching Together: How Workers Are Hemming Down Transnational Capital in the Hyper-Global Apparel Industry
Article first published online: 16 MAY 2014
© 2014 Immanuel Ness and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 17, Issue 2, pages 187–210, June 2014
How to Cite
Kumar, A. and Mahoney, J. (2014), Stitching Together: How Workers Are Hemming Down Transnational Capital in the Hyper-Global Apparel Industry. WorkingUSA, 17: 187–210. doi: 10.1111/wusa.12107
- Issue published online: 16 MAY 2014
- Article first published online: 16 MAY 2014
Fatal disasters in Bangladesh garment factories demand we learn from recent antisweatshop breakthroughs. Beginning in 2007, workers at Fruit of the Loom (FOTL) factories in Honduras built a uniquely successful global campaign. FOTL closed a factory and laid off 1,200 workers in response to workers' efforts to improve working conditions, a textbook move in the industry's “race to the bottom.” But nine months later, after the largest collegiate boycott of a single company in history, FOTL reopened the factory and extended union neutrality to all its Honduran factories. We argue that the campaign, which resulted in a reversal of the transnational's decision to abandon the unionized factory and the direct negotiation between FOTL top executives and workers, provides an unprecedented model for labor to rein in the apparel industry's hyper-mobile capital. Since their negotiated agreement with FOTL, workers have won significant improvements in wages and working conditions, and inspired groundbreaking new campaigns to challenge the transnationals whose products they assemble.