HIGHTOWER: A Stain on the Name of Levi Strauss

Last fall, Levi Strauss announced that, because of a worldwide glut in the production of jeans, it was shutting-down 11 of its U.S. manufacturing plants and terminating 6,400 workers.Just five months later, however, Levi Strauss has suddenly reversed itself, saying it will now expand the number of factories it has for making jeans. Guess what though? The factories will not be in the U.S. and those 6,400 good American jean-makers are not being called back. Instead, Levi's expanded production will go to China! Proof again that today's corporate executives have all the characteristics of dogs ... except loyalty.Levi Strauss is also abandoning its principles. In the early '90s, it had been one of the few global manufacturers to say no to the low-wage lure of China, correctly deciding that the intolerable labor practices and human rights abuses in that country are so gross that doing business there puts an indelible stain on a corporate name. Now, however, Levi executives have had a change of heart, announcing that they are willing to accept that moral stain in exchange for the financial gains of human exploitation. CEO Peter Jacobi put it curtly: "Levi Strauss is not in the human rights business."Besides, said Jacobi, "It's clear to us that the [labor] environment is getting better there." Oh? That'll come as news to Chinese workers. Just the month before Jacobi tried to put his rosy, conscience-salving PR gloss on Levi's move, a firsthand report on Chinese factories found 96-hour workweeks, no freedom for workers to assemble, 13-cent-an-hour pay and arbitrary firings. And Harry Wu, the renowned Chinese dissident, says flatly: "The business opportunities are improving, but human rights conditions are getting worse."This is Jim Hightower saying ... Shame on Peter Jacobi and Levi Strauss."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card

Close

Thanks for your support!

Did you enjoy AlterNet this year? Join us! We're offering AlterNet ad-free for 15% off - just $2 per week. From now until March 15th.