In her 2001 Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take on the Global Factory Miriam Ching Yoon Louie, provides a gripping account of “the global sweatshop pyramid of exploitation”(6) and the darkest economic and political forces behind it. …
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The study takes the reader through the labyrinth of issues related with employment and civil rights, organized labour, immigration and benefits in the context of the global knowledge economy. Yoon Louise sends a powerful message through the personal accounts of those, who have been exploited in sweatshop factories for the past several decades. In an engaging manner, she reconstructs the stories of three generation of women immigrants from Mexico, Korea and China, and their ordeals in a desperate quest for economic survival and better life. Seeing immigrant women workers as a major component of the global work force, the author explores the political, historical and social conditions of their organized struggle for justice, recognition and equality. Divided in six chapters, the book follows the stories of women in New York, Oakland and Los Angeles (Yoon Louise 9-12).
Most of the information in the book comes from the personal stories of female factory workers in different parts of the US, which the author has collected in the course of several years. Her interviewees are women from China, Mexico and Korea, who are first or second generation immigrants. In an analytical manner, the author reveals the main purposes of her work – to illustrate the practical effect of global inequalities, through the prism of those, whose voices are rarely heard, because of their vulnerable social position. Seeing immigrant women workers as a major component of the global work force, the author explores the political, historical and social conditions of their organized struggle for justice, recognition and equality. Divided in six chapters, the book follows the stories of women in New York, Oakland and Los Angeles (Yoon Louise 9-12). The first three chapters focus on the Chinese, Mexican and Korean cases respectively, and provide detailed observations on the geo-political factors, which triggered massive waves of immigration to the US in the early 1970s (15-60). The author focuses on factors such as the 1949 Chinese revolution, as well as the role of the Communist party as a factor behind the miserable economic perspectives for women in China (20-27). In the case of Mexico, the author focuses on its geographical proximity to the US and the impact of neo-liberal policies such as austerity and privatization, prescribed by the IMF and the WB in the 1980s and 1990s (63-70). As major factors behind the immigration wave among Korean workers the author points the wars in Korea and Vietnam, and the exploitation of Korean women during the times of conflict and unrest in the country (127-140). Apart from the geo-political conditions, which the author highlights, she also points at lower standards of corporate responsibility, greed and globalization as the main reasons for the poor treatment of female factory workers in the USA (25-34). In her detailed analysis, Yoon Louise offers a close observation of the complexity of factors, which have driven Mexican, Chinese and Korean women to the so called 3D (“dirty, dangerous and dull”) jobs (20-27) in the USA. Louise’s heroines are revealed as the victims of an exploitative economic world order, where unequal distribution of resources makes the alleviation of poverty a formidable task. Yoon Louise fervently condemns the major corporations and manufacturers in the developed world, as well as their policies of outsourced labour, which started in the 1970s. She discusses the detrimental impacts of these policies upon the Chinese, Mexican and Korean female workers, and reveals the aspects of their exploitation in the context of neo-liberalism. The author criticizes neo-liberalism not as an ideology, but as a policy adopted and implemented by those who benefited from its “translational exploitation of women’s labour” (67). She defends the position of the women interviewed in
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