Rights Report Describes Romney-Owned “Brutal Chinese Sweatshop”

Dave Johnson

The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights has issued a report describing the company Mitt Romney invested in and described in the now-famous secret video – Global-Tech – as a “brutal Chinese sweatshop.”

In a report titled Betting Against American Workers the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights looked at wages and working conditions at Global-Tech, a Chinese company that Mitt Romney visited and then invested in. According to the executive summary of the report,

  • At its peak, for two and a half years from April 1998 through August 2000, Mr. Romney and his Brookside Capital Partners Fund invested approximately $23 million in the Global-Tech sweatshop in Dongguan, China.
  • Mr. Romney was there when the Race to the Bottom in the global sweatshop economy was launched. Mr. Romney noted “the pittance they earned”— just 24 cents an hour in 1998 and less than $2.00 a day. Wages in Global-Tech were less than 2 percent of U.S. wages.
  • Despite his investment and power as Bain Capital’s CEO, Mr. Romney apparently failed to urge Chinese management to even modestly improve Global-Tech’s gross working and living conditions or the pitifully low wages of its workers.
  • If Mr. Romney had spoken up, conditions at Global-Tech might be far better today. Sadly, in 2012, Global-Tech remains a brutal sweatshop, where workers are paid starvation wages of $1.00 an hour and have no rights.
  • Today at Global-Tech, every single labor law in China is violated: primitive, filthy dorm conditions are the norm; routine 15- to 16-hour shifts prevail, along with grueling 105- to 112-hour, seven-day work weeks.
  • Eight hundred student interns — many exhausted children, just 16 years old — are forced to work the grueling 15- to 16-hour shifts with no overtime pay.

The report also has several photos of the working conditions at this Chinese factory.

Video Of Romney Describing Chinese Company

“We went to China to buy a factory there.”

Here is a clip of the now-famous video of Romney speaking to donors at a Boca Raton fundraiser, in which he describes the Chinese factory:

“And they work in these huge factories; they made various uh, small appliances. And uh, as we were walking through this facility, seeing them work, the number of hours they worked per day, the pittance they earned, living in dormitories with uh, with little bathrooms maybe 10, 10 room, rooms. And the rooms they have 12 girls per room. Three bunk beds on top of each other.”

Steelworkers Statement

United Steelworkers President Leo W. Gerard issued a statement reacting to the report:

The USW leader challenged Romney on his $23 million investment in the Dongguan sweatshop: “Can you explain to the American people what you were thinking as CEO of Bain Capital when you learned the pittance the Chinese workers earned at 24 cents an hour, the grueling hours and brutal sweatshop conditions?”

In addition to asking for an explanation,

Gerard called on Romney to own up to his irresponsibility as a businessman who exploited both American and Chinese workers. “Here’s more evidence that Romney is a plutocrat who only values his own wealth, while outsourcing American jobs to Chinese factories.

“It’s a sweatshop factory where thousands of young women living in dorms — 12 to a room — made coffee pots, toasters and hair dryers for export sales to the U.S.”

The global labor institute report documented Romney as the sole investor and shareholder in Brookside Capital Partners Fund, and also the Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors, which was incorporated in Bermuda to avoid taxes. The report used 1998 and later filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission – also cited by Mother Jones Magazine and later other investigative reporters — to show the Brookside fund invested up to $23 million in Global-Tech between April 1998 and August 2000.

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