In our sales of liberal, anti-war, heretical and just plain oddball t-shirts, we have tried to avoid the sale of shirts made in those overseas sweatshops we’ve heard about, the ones where child laborers have been purchased from parents, sleep on the factory roof and eat bowls of rice laden with maggots. Sorry, we’re just not into that.
One solution has been to source our shirts through American Apparel, a producer that makes t-shirts for men, women, kids and even babies in a Los Angeles factory that is above-board and admired for its attention to worker compensation and rights. We sell American Apparel shirts of all sorts and colors through Skreened, a small business small proprietorship that prints the shirts in Columbus, Ohio — and we will continue to hold our commitment to Skreened into the future.
But we’re also happy to report that we’ve found a way to expand our offerings of ethically sourced t-shirts. As of this morning, we’re able to offer t-shirts made in the USA in a union shop. Unions offer an alternative path to ethical production, with guarantees for collective bargaining rights that lead to better worker conditions and compensation than in most non-union shops. We have some 370 union-made shirts for sale in the following categories:
It took us a while (and a fair amount of haggling) to secure the ability to sell our shirt designs on union-only apparel, but we’re glad it’s possible now. There are more possible paths to ethical shirt-making, and we will try to pursue those in the future. For one thing, we know these union shirts are only in two colors (ash and white) and of one make. We would like to find more colors and styles to offer to match the variety of American Apparel designs through Skreened. Another path of particular interest to us lies in the direction of shirts made outside the United States but maintaining attention to worker pay and worker rights. That path is fraught with difficulty, but we’ll do what we can to find it or forge it. Choices are expanding, and there’s really no excuse for buying a t-shirt made in a sweatshop any longer.