Towards Joint Liability in Global Supply Chains: Addressing the Root Causes of Labor Violations in International Subcontracting Networks

TitleTowards Joint Liability in Global Supply Chains: Addressing the Root Causes of Labor Violations in International Subcontracting Networks
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsAnner, M., Bair, Jennifer, and Blasi, Jeremy
JournalComparative Labor Law & Policy Journal
Volume35
Issue1
Keywordsactivism, global supply chains, globalization, labor rights, subcontracting, sweatshops
Abstract

This article situates today’s campaign for “buyer responsibility agreements” with companies like Adidas in a much longer struggle against sweatshops. The downward pressure that pervasive subcontracting networks put on garment workers’ wages and working conditions is not a new problem unique to the era of economic globalization; indeed, it as old as industrial apparel production itself. Yet the scholarly debate about how to combat contemporary sweatshops has been peculiarly ahistorical. One of goals on this article is to remedy the amnestic tone of this debate by reflecting on how the sweatshop problem was effectively solved, albeit only for a time, in the United States. Our case for the contemporary relevance of jobbers agreements unfolds as a three-part answer to a straightforward question: Why are working conditions and labor practices in the apparel industry essentially unchanged despite the widespread implementation of codes of conduct and compliance auditing regimes at the factory level, and what alternative approaches might prove more effective in securing garment worker rights in global supply chains?