What is a Sweat Shop?

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's February 2008

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What is a sweatshop exactly? The Wikipedia encyclopedia defines is as a factory in which people often work for a very small wage or doing piece work. Typically workers there are producing clothes, toys, shoes, electronics or other consumer goods. The term is usually used as a pejorative, and connotes the condition of a factory or place in which the workers may be kept in a harsh environment with inadequate ventilation, and may sometimes be abused physically, mentally, subjected to long hours, harsh or unsafe conditions, and the like. Some companies have been found to use children in their subcontracting sweatshops. Some countries where sweatshops are found forbid the practice of trade unionization.

Some sweatshops persist in manufacturing enclaves in the United States and other developed countries -- for example, the garment manufacturing sector in New York and Los Angeles. Although the rapid gentrification of New York City has taken over areas once synonymous with sweatshops, the history is taught and remembered in the Lower East Side's Tenement Museum.

Conditions in a typical historical sweatshop included gas lighting, little or no windows, old wooden stairs, and workers smoking while working, rat infestations, and sometimes people's apartments were sweatshops. With these factors in mind, it's not hard to imagine how the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire was started. So you have the daily house routine going on at the same time as the production. This includes meat factories. There were no laws of sanitation or knowledge of food borne illnesses until outbreaks of cholera became a pandemic in the Victorian Era. However, the Meat Inspection Act was not passed until 1906, Upton Sinclair's graphic details of the meat packing industry in his novel The Jungle contributed to the concern. If it wasn't that then it was food poisoning, which was experienced by...