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Rethinking Globalization

Assignment overview: Choose an item (not made in the U.S.) from your "Clothes, Toys and the World" list. Research the lives affected by that object's journey. Decide how you would like to write up your research. Some choices:

1. Interior Monologue or story: Use details from your research to write an interior monologue or short story from the standpoint of a worker in a factory that produces the product that you're researching or someone in this individual's family, or anyone else connected with the "journey of the _______" to the United States. Try to be as specific as you can be, and draw on details that you've learned from your research. This is imagination based on fact. Try not to make these one dimensional "victim stories." Workers choose to work in foreign-owned factories. Why? What do they hope for? What conditions are they fleeing? How are they trying to make their lives better at work?

2. Write a letter from the standpoint of a worker at a workplace in another country asking for consumers, workers or students here to take some kind of action on their behalf. For example, several hundred workers in the Las Mercedes free trade zone in Managua, Nicaragua - who make clothes under the Bugle Boy and Arizona labels for Target and J.C. Penney's - are on strike right now demanding wage increases and protesting the threatened firing of their union leadership . What might they ask of people here? (See the Campaign for Labor Rights website, below, for more details.)

3. Write a dialogue poem contrasting the life of a worker who makes a product sold in the U.S. with that of a consumer of that product in the U.S.

4. Design a strategy for people here to act in solidarity with sweatshop workers abroad. Include details of the conditions of these workers: What demands are the workers raising? How could people here support those demands? How could students at Franklin help?

5. Write a "Journey of the _______" poem/song/meditation like the Sweet Honey in the Rock song, "Are My Hands Clean?" Include as many details about the "life" of this product as you can. Also see "Tomasito's Tour" for another example.

6. Company Profile: Try to find out as much as you can about the company of one of the products on your list. What do they produce? How many employees do they have worldwide? What were their sales and profits in recent years? Try to find out why they produce products in other countries, specifically the country where your item was produced. Try to find out how much the workers who made your item are paid. Include any other interesting/important facts about the company that you discover: are their factories unionized, what are the conditions of work, what other countries do they operate in? [Note: It might be easiest to choose a large company like Disney, Nike, Mattel, the Gap, etc.] Complete this as a narrative, not as a list of facts. You could write this up as an interior monologue or autobiography, as if you are the company.

7. Another choice. Check with me before starting on a different option. But, as always, I encourage you to spin, fold and mutilate the assignment so that you can complete it in a way that interests you. Whichever option you select, attach all notes, website printouts, and such to your write-up.

Some helpful websites to get you started:

Every major company has its own website. Generally, these are just www.companyname.com. For example: www.disney.com; www.gap.com; www.mattel.com; etc. Nike is www.nikebiz.com.

There are a number of useful websites for organizations working for labor and human rights. Be sure to follow links to other worthwhile sites not listed here. Last year, students found some excellent ones on their own.

Campaign for Labor Rights: (campaigns on Disney in Haiti, Mexico, and others) www.campaignforlaborrights.org

National Labor Committee: (producer of the Zoned for Slavery video that we saw in class): www.nlcnet.org.

Global Exchange (The Gap, Nike, Northern Mariana Islands, etc.): www.globalexchange.org

Free the Children (child labor campaigns): www.freethechildren.org

Sweatshop Watch (general info on sweatshops): www.sweatshopwatch.org

Vietnam Labor Watch (esp. focuses on Nike): www.saigon.com/nike

United Electrical Workers Union: (focuses on issues in Mexico): www.igc.apc.org/unitedelect/

Rugmark (campaign on child labor and rug making in Pakistan, India, etc.): www.rugmark.org

Workers Rights Consortium: www.workersrights.org. This is the group that U of O just voted to affiliate with.

Nike workers (Press for Change): www.nikeworkers.org. This is the website that Seth Turner just located. Thanks, Seth.

Workers in El Salvador: www.cispes.org, website of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.

Also, use Pro-quest for articles about particular companies, countries, and labor struggles. It's an important resource our library has that you should be familiar with, if you're not already.

Last Updated Spring 2002