The maquiladora or "sweatshop" is sadly not new. In the early 1900s
American labor history documents the treatment of European immigrant
women who toiled 12-15 hour days for the pittance of wages. The infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, which produced the popular clothing for women of the leisured class of the day, forced its female laborers to work overtime against their will in order to meet production deadlines by locking all exit doors. One day a fire broke out and 146 young women lost their lives to a disastrous tragedy. The inhumanity that describes the sweatshop may no longer describe most
working conditions on American soil today. Instead, it has been exported to other countries where multinational corporations can subcontract with factory owners and managers who often place a higher value on production deadlines than on the health, safety and well-being of the working poor.
The patterns of indifference towards workers persist in today’s global economy.