News & Politics

Chinese Workers Paid $1 an Hour to Make Ivanka Trump's Clothes

Exploitation city.

Photo Credit: By Original photo by Dimitrios Kambouris via Wikimedia Commons

Ivanka Trump has again proven that where business, money-making and worker exploitation are concerned, it’s like father, like daughter. Workers at a factory in China that makes clothes for the Ivanka Trump clothing line and other labels made roughly $1 an hour, according to a new audit cited by the Washington Post. The workers toiled 60 hours a week to produce clothing they could never afford, such as the “brand’s $158 dresses [and] $79 blouses”—but low wages weren’t the only difficulty they endured. According to the Post, “inspectors with the Fair Labor Association...found two dozen violations of international labor standards during a two-day tour of the factory in October, saying in a report that workers faced daunting hours, high turnover, and pay near or below China’s minimum wage.”

Laborers at the G-III factory, which is exclusively licensed to produce the Ivanka Trump line, also manufactured clothing for Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. The Post reports auditors found workers were mandated to work 57 hours a week, and many far exceeded the maximum legal overtime limit of 35 hours per month, reaching an astounding 82 hours on the job every month. For their work, the Post notes, factory workers were paid half as much as “the average manufacturing employee in urban China.”

Fewer than a third of the factory’s workers were offered legally mandated coverage under China’s “social insurance” benefits, including a pension and medical, maternity, unemployment and work-related injury insurance, inspectors found. The factory also did not contribute, as legally required, to a fund designed to help workers afford housing, inspectors said.

Inspectors also cited the factory for a number of workplace safety concerns. It did not train loading workers on safety techniques or provide employees with equipment that could reduce injury, including lifting belts or seats with backrests.

The Post discovery comes just days after reports that one retailer has taken to secretly rebranding and selling Trump’s clothes under the label "Adrienne Vittadini.”

Though the Trumps have given lip service to being pro-labor, in actuality they’ve consistently been anything but. Donald Trump is notorious for business practices that include cheating business partners and contractors, particularly small businesses, out of money owed, driving a number of companies into bankruptcy. Madison Avenue Diamonds LLC, which does business as Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, reportedly refuses to pay $2 million owed to a supplier, despite a court order. Ivanka Trump’s clothing company does not pay interns, and a former worker claims that for all her empty talk about #WomenWhoWork, Ivanka initially refused to offer paid maternity leave.

Along with her father, the first daughter and nepotistic White House appointee has publicly embraced a “buy American, hire American” stance. Privately, just like her dad, she continues to have her clothes manufactured abroad, where it’s easier to work around labor protections and workers can be underpaid.

The Trumps have used the White House and the presidency for wheeling and dealing, selling access to the president to the highest bidder and leveraging their position for profit. Just weeks ago, after a meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping, Ivanka was suddenly granted three new trademarks for her clothing brand. An Agence France-Presse report from March noted that as Trump delivered a speech touting American workers and industry, “at least eight shipments of Ivanka Trump-branded shoes, bags and clothes—more than 53.5 tons—were steaming towards American ports from China, according to U.S. Customs bills.”

Ivanka is currently on a European tour. On Wednesday, Axios reported she has launched a new fund "to benefit female entrepreneurs around the globe." She has thus far taken money from numerous foreign benefactors, a practice the Trump campaign criticized Hillary Clinton for during the campaign. According to Axios, "President Trump is a huge supporter of his daughter's idea."

Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.

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