Posts Tagged ‘child labor’

Looking to China for how Unregulated Corporations Provide more Jobs

January 17, 2012

I recently did my bit to help the American consumer-driven economy. I upgraded to an iPhone 4 and I love it, especially the 5 mp camera with a flash. But, after watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night, every time I look it now, I’ll think about the factory worker in China who made it. According to the report, which got its facts and video clips from a MSNBC program, he or she – some as young as 13-years-old – got 32-cents an hour, lives in a company-owned dormitory room with seven other people, works up to 35 straight hours, and sometimes becomes so stressed out and depressed that  he or she jumps off the top of the dormitory building.  So many have jumped that Foxconn, the Taiwan-based largest manufacturer of electronics in the world, has put up nets to break the jumpers’ falls.  Most of the company’s manufacturing plants are in mainland China.

Why does the union allow this to happen to workers?  There is no union.  Trying to organize one can get you twelve years in the clink.

Last night’s report was prompted by Rick Perry’s repeating of the Republican mantra about bringing jobs back to America by fewer regulations and more tax breaks for corporations.   Perry made the statement during the Republican presidential primary debate in South Carolina.

There was a time when many American factories were almost as immoral, paying starvation wages, providing shoddy company-owned houses, and  using child labor. Regulations got us away from that.  Do we really want to go back to that in order to compete with communist China?  Do we really want to ramp up our march back  to the Gilded Age of the Robber Barons? Can’t we find a way to provide jobs without destroying the American middle class?

Dr. John Lupold Lectures on Child Labor on the Same Day that Bibb Mill Burns

October 31, 2008

   In a remarkable coincidence, Dr. John Lupold delivered a lecture on child labor at the Columbus Museum on the day that saw the huge Bibb Mill destroyed by fire. The lecture had been scheduled long before the fire. 

Dr. John Lupold, retired history professor, author, historian

Dr. John Lupold, retired history professor, author, historian

  The museum is featuring the exhibit “Let Children be Children: Lewis Wickes Hine’s Crusade Against Child Labor” now through December 14th. It is an exhibit of photographs taken by Hine over a ten year period documenting the exploitation of child labor. Hine came to Columbus to show children working in the mills as part of his documentation of the subject.

  Dr. Lupold told us that child laborers in Columbus mills were mainly doffers, dinner toters and helpers. Lupold showed a lot of those pictures during his lecture, more than are on the display in the  exhibit.

  Naturally, since the Bibb Mill fire is in the news, the obvious question is did Bibb use child labor? All Columbus mills did in the early 1900’s, and that includes Bibb.  Bibb was built three times. The first mill was built in 1900 . After the 1920 version – number 3 – opened there was very little child labor. One lady said surely some 13 and 14 year old children worked there during those years. Lupold said, “That wasn’t child labor. Child labor was under 12 years old.”

  The crowd for the lecture and recpetion was the smallest I have seen for a recption celebrating the opening of an exhibition at the musem. I guess the subject of the exploitation of child labor doesn’t have a lot of appeal. And, truth is, it is not a pleasant subject.  When you see pictures of children as young as five years old working in a mill it is not a very uplifting experience. But, the pictures are extraordinary and certainly drive home the point Hine was making.

  Hine shot those pictures at the beginning of the 20th century. National laws against child labor were not enacted and signed into law until 1938 when Franklyn Delano Roosevelt was president.

  Dr. Lupold and I took a very interesting ride around the Bibb Mill area in 1985. He was showing me just how progressive Bibb Mill was in the 1920’s and what it did to announce that to the world. I’ll explain tomorrow.

“Let Children be Children” is Coming to the Columbus Museum

October 13, 2008

  There was a time when you simply had to go to Atlanta to see Broadway musicals, plays, museums, or go to concerts featuring nationally or world famous performers. Not any more.  You can get it all right here in Columbus now. 

  Take the Columbus Museum, for instance. It’s loaded with intriguing exhibits and they keep changing. For instance, one is coming up on October 26th that looks interesting. It’s called “Let Children be Children: Lewis Wickes Hine’s Crusade Against Child Labor.”

National Archives and Records Administration)

Child Laborer, Newberry, S.C. 1908, Photographed by Lewis W. Hine (Courtesy: National Archives and Records Administration)

 Hine was a sociologist who used the camera to document the conditions in which young American children worked in the early 1900’s.  Some of those pictures were taken right here in Columbus, Georgia, because Columbus cotton mills did indeed employ children in the early 1900’s.

National Archives and Records Administration)

Child Laborers in Indiana Glass Works, Midnight, Indiana. 1908. Photographer, Lewis W. Hine (Courtesy: National Archives and Records Administration)

  You’ll be able to see some of his work, including those Columbus pictures starting October 26th and running through December 14th, 2008. And if you are a member of the museum, you’ll be able to be able to attend a reception celebrating the opening of the exhibit and hear Dr’ John Lupold’s lecture “Child Labor and the Columbus Textile Industry, on Thursday, October 30th, 2008.  If  you can’t make it, you can rprobably ead about what he said on this blog, because I plan to go.  But, it’s best to be there so you might want to join the museum. It’s not real expensive and certainly worth the dues.