As we walk around campus at PLNU whether it’s to and from class, down cafe lane, or in the cafe it is hard to miss the sea of PLNU branded t-shirts and sweatshirts. As students we don’t give it a second thought when we go to purchase it. If you asked someone which company produced the shirt they were wearing I would be surprised to hear that any of them actually know it is produced by Champion. After looking into Champion you would quickly find that they are owned and run by Hanes.
As students and consumers it is important that we know both the social and economic repercussions behind the products that we purchase. The Hanes brand has been under the watchful eye of the an organization called Workers Rights Consortium. WRC completed an audit on on a factory in the Dominican Republic that produced thread for Hanes. The factory employed 1,100 local Dominican employees. The main issue out of the several that were brought to light was the coercion of the Dominican employees into sign new contracts.
These contracts help to reduce the company’s expenses in ways that are considered illegal according to Dominican Republic law. These contracts did two things, first they changed worker’s schedules to what is called a 4×4 schedule. Workers work a twelve hour shift for four days in a row and then are off for four days. The contracts revoked the employees’ rights to overtime pay that they occurred during the twelve hour shifts. They also were denied night compensation which the Dominican requires workers be payed a premium for working at night.
It is important for us to know what the products we wear mean economically for the people producing them. There is no doubt that companies like Hanes are being pushed to reduce costs where ever possible. The problem is that while Hanes made these economic decisions they have negative implications.