Run the Universities and Sweatshops MiniGJG

Developer Matthew Williams has created a less complicated version of the Global Justice Game that requires less time to run. This MiniGJG is available for free and without password protection. Download the PDF document.

The Current Situation

The Cool Clothing Corporation (CCC), a major international brand name company, employs a number of subcontractors to manufacture its clothing, as is standard practice in the industry. One of these subcontractors is Quality Production Company (QPC), located in the Central American country of Tropica, where there is an on-going labor dispute. CCC also has contracts with a number of colleges and universities to produce licensed goods for those schools—that is goods emblazoned with the schools’ logo. These contracts are very lucrative for both CCC and the schools.

Working conditions at QPC are standard for the industry, which is to say, very poor. While QPC pays the prevailing wage for the industry, this is only half the legal minimum wage of Tropica; critics further argue it is only one-quarter of a living wage for the country. (In other words, even the legal minimum wage is only half the living wage.) The typical work week at QPC is sixty hours (ten hours a day, six days a week). Workers there additionally complain of sexual harassment by management (the vast majority of workers are young women), forced overtime (occasionally as much as 140 hours a week--twenty-hour days, seven days a week), and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions (the air is polluted by chemicals and cotton dust, there is no clean drinking water, the bathrooms are filthy, etc.) Critics charge that these constitute sweatshop conditions. CCC’s corporate code of conduct forbids it to do business with subcontractors that mistreat their workers, but critics again charge that this code of conduct is often ignored in practice. Workers at QPC are currently attempting to form a union local affiliated with the progressive Workers United (WU). The majority of workers—74%—have voted to join the union, but QPC has responded by threatening to fire the leaders of the organizing drive unless it stops immediately.

Workers United (WU) has asked for help from the government of Tropica, but it has been largely unresponsive. This is unsurprising as the government wants to encourage foreign investment and so tends to support manufacturers, even when they are in clear violation of Tropican labor law. Indeed, there is a long history of violent repression of labor activists, both by business and by the government itself. Given this, WU has also asked for help from a number of US groups, including Students Opposing Sweatshops (SOS) and the College Council for Social Responsibility (CCSR).

SOS is a student activist group which has long been critical of CCC and other such corporations. The CCSR is an independent monitoring organization that investigates conditions in subcontracting factories that produce licensed apparel for the colleges and universities which are members of it, including a number of major schools. Most of the schools which joined the CCSR have done so reluctantly, after being pushed to do so by SOS, sometimes following sit-ins. They had adopted a common code of conduct, requiring companies that produce apparel for them to not do business with sweatshop subcontractors. CCC produces apparel for a number of the schools that are members of the CCSR. In response to the complaints by QU, the CCSR’s investigative arm sent teams to Tropica and found that conditions at QPC are in violation of its code of conduct—that is, they are sweatshop conditions. They have further indicated that conditions also violate CCC’s own internal code of conduct. Now the school administrations that make up the CCSR must make a collective decision about what actions they should take in regard to CCC’s violation of both the CCSR’s and its own code of conduct.

It should be noted that the CCSR’s code of conduct is much tougher than CCC’s internal code of conduct. Both codes of conduct ban sexual harassment and forced overtime and require safe and healthy working conditions. CCC’s code of conduct, however, only requires the payment of the legal minimum wage, while the CCSR requires a living wage. CCC’s code of conduct makes no place for labor unions, while CCSR’s requires that manufacturers recognize and bargain in good faith with unions supported by a majority of their workers.

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