One of the many benefits of supporting the American Manufacturing Industry in one's consumer habits is reducing the commercial footprint of global manufacturers who rely on forced labor and child labor to produce goods. While the domestic industry struggled through the recession, it's a testament to the strength of the United States' regulatory practices and labor laws that it has managed to recover and is staged to compete on the global stage. However, outsourcing continues to put a limit on growth, and can lead to human rights violations.
On Monday, the Labor Department added more items to its list of products that it says were potentially produced unethically, either by children or indentured workers. From food stuffs to clothing and fabrics, the news is a reminder that many goods manufactured outside the United States come from factories where workers do not enjoy the same protections and rights that their American counterparts have under the law.
Among countries where those items are flagged to have originated are Bangladesh, Madagascar, Yemen, Kenya, Cambodia, Malaysia and Kazakhstan. According to the International Labor Organization, 246 million children around the world are forced to work in factories producing goods that American consumers may take for granted, like electronic devices, garments and household products. The list includes 136 goods from 74 countries worldwide, so the footprint of child labor and forced labor reaches across sectors and markets.
"There's a story behind each item on these lists — a child facing back-breaking labor without education or other opportunities for a better life or an adult trapped in a dismal job through deceit or threats," said Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez. "These lists raise awareness about child and forced labor. Through collective efforts we can, and must, work together to end these cycles of exploitation."
As the manufacturing industry in America continues to add jobs and foster innovation, it's important for consumers to remember the value of investing in domestic industry. Besides helping the economy, supporting local machining companies promotes ethical labor practices.