I work at Anthropologie and many people are unaware that they are part of a larger corporation called URBN, Inc along with Urban Outfitters, Free People, BHLDN, and Terrain. Anthropologie is a women’s retail store that sells clothing and home items and this includes furniture. Some of the merchandise is created in house by designers at home office but many of them are brought to the company from other vendors. Several of the products we sell in the store are also made in the USA.
I love working for the company and I feel like they do a great job making sure their employees are treated fairly and I have never had an issue with them. But, I am curious to see if any of the products that we sell are made in sweatshop factories. I could not find much information on this topic but I did come across an article from last year.
Sweatshop like conditions in factories were discovered in LA fashion district where production for companies such as Aldo, Forever 21, Burlington Coat Factory, Charlotte Russe, Dilliard’s, Rainbow Apparel, Ross Stores, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Wet Seal, and Urban Outfitters.
An unannounced sweep of garment factories in LA of 10 contractors took place last year. Several violations were uncovered and they found that the factories had $326,200 in back wages for 185 employees. Many of them were not getting paid minimum wage but were getting paid a “piece rate” in other words they were getting paid for every completed piece instead of hourly. This was not an effective way for getting paid because the pieces they were making an hour did meet or exceed minimum wage. I feel that this method only makes the employees over work themselves since they are trying to complete as much as they can in that hour. Just getting up to use the bathroom could effect the amount you get paid in that day.
This is not happening oversees, but it is happening in our own country where most of us think we are protected by labor rights. The contractors ended up paying the back wages to the workers but unfortunately this is probably still happening. The Labor Department has conducted 1,500 investigations in that year and 93% of factories they swept through they uncovered violations. These companies all together owed a total of $11 million in back wages.
Many people come to this country for better work but it is sad to say that some of them end up in those same working conditions that they were trying to get away from. It is good to see that there are measures being taken to prevent this sort of mistreatment. Also, they are enforcing these laws and making these contractors pay up to their employees.