Clothed in Integrity: Weaving Just Cultural Relations and the Garment Industry PDF by Barbara Paleczny

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Clothed in Integrity: Weaving Just Cultural Relations and the Garment Industry
by Barbara Paleczny
Clothed in Integrity: Weaving Just Cultural Relations and the Garment Industry

Contents
Acknowledgements ...................................................................... xv
Preface ......................................................................................... xvii
Serious Implications for Faith Communities ........................ xxi
My Entry into the Problem .................................................. xxiii
Perspective and Purpose ...................................................... xxv
Time Frame ......................................................................... xxvi
Method ................................................................................ xxvi
Importance of Images and Symbols .................................... xxix
Assumptions and Horizons .................................................. xxx
Stories ................................................................................. xxxii
Notes ................................................................................... xxxii
Part I: Identifying Relations of Ruling and Solidarity
1 Present Conditions of Garment Homeworking in Toronto:
The Microeconomics of a Low-Wage Strategy ......................... 3
A Story of Exploitation ........................................................ 4
Exposing Some Myths ......................................................... 7
Protection of Homeworkers in Multiple Sectors .................. 10
Conclusion .......................................................................... 11
Notes ................................................................................... 12
2 The Macroeconomics of Garment Homeworking: Homework
in Its Historical Context .......................................................... 17
Homeworking in the Context of Expanding Capitalism ....... 18
Conclusion .......................................................................... 45
Notes ................................................................................... 46
3 The Macroeconomics of Garment Homeworking: The
International Web of Production and Feminist Analysis of the
Relations of Ruling ................................................................. 57
The International Web of Production in the Garment
Industry ............................................................................... 58
Feminist Analysis of the Relations of Ruling in the
Garment Industry ................................................................ 74
Conclusion .......................................................................... 81
Notes ................................................................................... 82
4 Transforming the Local Situation in Its Global Context .......... 89
Fair Wages and Working Conditions for Homeworkers’
Coalition Campaign in Ontario ........................................... 90
Core Issues Arising from Praxis ........................................... 103
ILGWU Initiatives and Challenges ....................................... 113
Webs of Solidarity Worldwide ............................................. 119
Relations of Solidarity ......................................................... 121
Conclusion .......................................................................... 121
Transition to Part II ............................................................. 122
Notes ................................................................................... 123
Part II: Constructing Feminist Socio-economic Ethics as
Transformative Theology
5 Horizon, Bias and Specificity/Difference Analysis Related to
Homeworking ......................................................................... 133
Horizon and Feminist Analysis ............................................ 134
Forms of Bias and the Obstruction of Transformation ......... 140
Specificity and Difference ................................................... 150
Conclusion .......................................................................... 159
Notes ................................................................................... 161
6 Home Outside the Public Eye ................................................. 167
The Myth of Women’s Place and Market Strategies ............. 169
Social Construction of Gender and ‘‘Race’’ Relations ........... 173
Implications for Socio-political Organization ...................... 176
Some Foundational Elements of a Framework to
Restructure Society ............................................................. 185
Further Construction of an Integrative Framework ............. 188
Conclusion .......................................................................... 201
Notes ................................................................................... 203
7 Discerning Elements for Socio-economic Ethics ...................... 209
A Radical, Global Task ......................................................... 213
Values as the Foundation for Alternate Choices ................... 215
Difference and Specificity as a Gift of God .......................... 242
An Ethics of Integrity and Truth .......................................... 245
Relating Ethical Imperatives and Economic Possibilities ..... 249
Conclusion: Ethics, Sin and Grace ....................................... 259
Notes ................................................................................... 263
Conclusion
Conclusion ................................................................................... 277
Location of Ethical Discourse and Norms of Justice
Making ................................................................................ 277
Difference and Specificity Analysis Intrinsic to Theological
Praxis .................................................................................. 278
Constructing Domestic Just Relations ................................. 282
Global Relations of Solidarity to Counteract Global
Relations of Injustice ........................................................... 284
Integrating Images and Social Factors in Theological
Endeavour ........................................................................... 287
Notes ................................................................................... 288
Bibliography ................................................................................ 291
Index ........................................................................................... 347

Preface
Dylex controls Braemar, Fairweather/Fashion Rack, Club Monaco, Harry Rosen, L.A. Express, Thriftys, Tip Top Tailors/Canadian Clothiers, BiWay and Drug World. Manufacturing and retailing men and women’s clothing through fourteen chains operating 710 family clothing stores, Dylex tells customers, ‘‘We share your concern about the treatment of workers. That is why we try to provide some of the best working conditions and benefits to our employees in the industry today.’’2

The contradictions linking the accounts of the homeworker, Mrs. Cheung, and the retailer, Dylex, who sells what she sews are a source of my theological-ethical reflection. At stake in this interfacing of their positions is the meaning of current socio-economic relations. The underlying values these relations reveal are themselves essential to contemporary theological inquiry. Convinced that divine-human rela-tions are simultaneously relations of social organization, meaning, values and decision making, I engage in women’s concerns for economic justice to unmask structural causes of poverty as a theological-ethical issue.

The process raises tough ethical issues since it involves examining the economic context in which the working poor grow poorer and coexist with those who command increasing wealth and power. Complexities abound within an overall blatant discrepancy of winners and losers, haves and have-nots.

Why do many women earn so little when they work so hard? I explore this question in relation to Toronto women garment workers whose workplaces have shifted from factories to their homes. As a result of this growing trend, these women, known as homeworkers, are poorer and isolated. Many professionals, researchers and independent business personnel of both sexes prefer to work out of their homes. People need to have the choice of working at home or in factories where fair wages and working conditions prevail in both. Homeworking is not new in the garment industry. The new factors are the structure of the garment industry, its global nature and the explosion of homeworking as a low-wage strategy in garment production, in many other kinds of manufacturing and in services.

The ‘‘International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union 1993 Homeworkers’ Study’’ found women’s hourly wages as homeworkers were drastically reduced from their earlier factory incomes: On average, women made $4 less as a homeworker. Mrs. Chan made $8 per hour in a factory two years ago. Today she makes $3.50 per hour as a homeworker. Mrs. Young made $12 per hour in a factory one year ago. Now she makes $5.50 per hour at home.

Not content to focus on description of their wages and working conditions, or the symptoms of their exploitation, I ask further questions: How is it that society allows such blatant abuse? Who benefits? At what cost? To whom? Who is responsible? How can we bring about transformation of the very system?

Homeworking provides an entry to explore how wages and working conditions are determined in the socio-economic and political domains beyond local decision making. I explore the actual, socially organized relation between the everyday experience of homeworkers and the social relations established by jobbers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers within the entire web of production. In other words, I examine structural causes of poverty of homeworkers and of unemxviii ployed garment factory workers and I proceed to unmask ethical implications of the current economic system for corporations, banks and faith communities.

Facing the structural causes of the poverty of homeworkers and of unemployed garment factory workers reaches down to the very nature of how formal economics functions today. Questions abound and this entire analysis sets the context for me to raise them, without claiming to deal with them comprehensively. What is the meaning and what are the implications of claims that economics is neutral and value free?

What is regarded as value? How are basic human needs registered and obliterated in the market? How are effects of decision making and policy setting weighed and incorporated in economics? What do sourcing, production and trade relations have to do with a just practice of economics? Who are the essential players in policy setting by both corporations and governments? How are economic practices connected with real social and environmental costs? What are the long-term possibilities, responsibilities and essential ingredients of doing economics justly?

Economics is not formally concerned with the causes of poverty, with the effects of the system on those excluded from sharing its benefits or with the well-being of those unable to engage in the system through consuming, borrowing or investing in significant ways. All of these issues concern the orientation of the economic system. They also point with urgency to the requirement that socio-economic ethics be incorporated as an essential part of doing economics.

Facing the structural causes of the poverty of homeworkers and of unemployed garment factory workers is an ethical issue that calls into scrutiny the protocol and practice of the large transnational corporations. Current global and domestic disparities warrant this investigation. They also make visible the pressing need for openly transparent, democratically shaped corporate ethical codes and independent monitoring of practice; of legislation to protect all those involved in any aspect of sourcing, production and trade related to each corporation; and of assessment of relevant environmental and social impacts.

The starting place for the formation of corporate ethics is with those most affected by corporate decision making, those suffering the effects of the system as a whole and of particular industries within it. The test of the authenticity of corporate protocol and practice is in the same group. If a corporation’s brand name or label is on a product, the company is responsible. Being ethical on a corporate level goes far beyond the sincerity and generous donations of individual executive officers and owners, or even of companies. In fact, limiting focus to these features may be used to prevent dealing with extremely significant causes of poverty.


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