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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
December 13, 1996     The Message
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December 13, 1996
 

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14 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Shoppers say they'll pay more for products not from s By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- For the second year in a row, con- sumers told pollsters they would be willing to pay extra for goods they know were made without sweatshop labor and that they would avoid shopping at retail- ers they know sell items made under undesirable conditions. Six out of every 10 people sur- veyed in the study for Catholic- run Marymount University in Arlington, Va., said they would be more likely to do their holi- day buying at stores that coop- erate to end abuse of garment workers. Seventy-nine percent of the survey respondents said they would avoid retailers that they knew sold garments made in sweatshops, while 63 percent said they would be more inclined to patronize a store that cooper- ates with labor law enforcement efforts. Released just as the Christ- mas shopping season hit high gear, the study echoes what the U.S. Department of Labor has been hearing from consumers and businesses since the agency began a crackdown and public awareness campaign on sweat- shops two years ago, according to a spokesman for the agency. That campaign pairs stepped- up enforcement of labor laws with high-profile efforts to teach consumers about the working conditions under which many of the clothes sold in the United States are made. Violations of labor law at U.S. companies cited by state and federal agen- cies in the past few years have included unsafe conditions, ver- min in the workplace, wages below legal minimums, inade- quate heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and blocked emergency exits, among others. One element of the current No Sweat campaign brought together dozens of religious leaders at the Labor Depart- . iii ,dlJP'* Pno Arts Stud/o  Sarah W. Be. BM.. MA. '  FRFE FIRST LESSON All ages: Play with pleasure 1201 S. Bennigho! Evansville, IN 47714 (812) 477-2233 ii I Health care services fore entire family, onveniently '[ose to home. 13141 Grand Avenue Wuhington, lndiaxta 47501 (812) Z.-27S0 Main Street Pharmacy 217 E. Main St.. Downtown Washington Phone: 254-5141 iiill I I i l  Vincennes Bicknell Sandborn _  __ Monroe City nmuanK Princeton ,,,,, o- Pat0ka Member ED.I.C. ment in October to kick off church-based education pro- grams about sweatshop labor. "We are beginning to see the connections being made," said the Labor Department spokesman, citing popularity of the agency's Web site on the subject and the number of requests for informa- tion about manufacturers that participate in a compliance mon- itoring program. Marymount's nationwide sur- vey was conducted by ICR Sur- vey Research Group for the uni- versity's Center for Ethical Concerns and its Department of Fashion Design and Merchan- dising. The Catholic university has been at the forefront of efforts to look at how workers in the fash- ion industry are treated and address changes that could be made. Last July, Marymount cosponsored a Fashion Industry Forum with the Labor Depart- ment. An academic symposium on sweatshops is planned for May. "This study makes a strong case for education regarding the sweatshop issue," said a state- ment from Sister Eymard Gal- lagher, president of Marymount and a member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. She said many Americans believe sweatshop conditions are a prob- lem of the past, or something that occurs only in Third World nations. "Our annual survey shows that consumers are aware that sweatshops are unfortunately part of the indust"y's present and can be detrimental to the indus- try's future," Sister Gallagher said. "Clearly, consumers care about this issue and are willing to show that concern when they shop this holiday season." Not only are consumers will- ing to shop more carefully to avoid supporting sweatshops, the study showed even low- income people are willing to pay a little more if they can be guar- anteed products are made in approved conditions. Eighty-three percent of the respondents said they would pay $1 more on a $20 garment if it was guaranteed to be made in a "legitimate shop." Women were more likely than men to agree to a slightly higher price, with 87 percent responding in the affirmative, compared to 78 percent of men. The largest statistical change in consumer attitudes between the 1995 and 1996 surveys were in answers to questions about who should take responsibility for preventing sweatshops in the United States. In 1995, 76 percent of people surveyed said manufacturers hold the greatest responsibility, followed by 10 percent who said both retailers and manufactur- ers should, and 7 percent who said it is a retailer's duty to pre- vent sweatshop conditions. In this year's survey, 70 per- cent said the responsibility lies with manufacturers, 14 percent said retailers and manufactur- ers share the obligation and 10 percent said it should be up to retailers to prevent sweatshops. Those statistics are apparent- ly translating into questions raised by consumers as they shop, according to the Labor Department spokesman. And retailers around the country are beginning to provide employees with responses to customers who ask about the origins of the clothing stocked in their stores. "People about wl The Labor more than two that sell than 100 comp to labor laws, enforcement are found and to ing conditions at subcontractors as v own plants. : Inclusion constitute an eni the Labor does indicate nies have for tr Among the Levi Strauss, Jones Apparel Gerber co and those clothing l list known well as their include The ration, the Gap, store, Army Air Services, L.L. Bean, ed stores. 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