Behind the Labels: Garment Workers on U.S. Saipan

2001, 45 minutes
Producer/Director: Tia Lessin
Executive Producer: Gillian Caldwell
Distributed by Witness

Additional Resources


Documentary Films

Another World is Possible: Impressions of the World Social Forum (2002, 25 minutes)
Directors/Writers: Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young.
Distributor: Bullfrog Films (
      In early 2002 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 50,000 people - including 11,000 young people - gathered at the World Social Forum to protest corporate globalization, and to develop alternative visions for the future. Public officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations, indigenous nations, farmers and labor promoted a new vision of social justice

Bought & Sold: An Investigative Documentary About the International Trade in Women (1997, 42 minutes)
Producer / Director: Gillian Caldwell.
Distributor: Witness (
Presented by the Global Survival Network
      Based on a two-year undercover investigation conducted by the Global Survival Network into the illegal trafficking in women from the former Soviet Republics, this documentary features interviews with traffickers, Russian mafioso, trafficked women, and groups working to provide services to trafficked women.

Cost of Living (2000, 24 minutes)
Distributor: Bullfrog Films (
      Part 14 of Life series of 30 24-minute programs on how the global economy affects ordinary people, this program examines why AIDS drugs are unaffordable in developing countries. Thailand and South Africa provide examples of countries that have applied to use compulsory licenses and parallel importing, practices stipulated under World Trade Organization guidelines, to make generic versions of anti-retroviral drugs to halt the AIDS epidemic. The video takes issue with the absence of anti-retroviral drugs from the WTO's list of essential drugs.

Empire's New Clothes (2000, 9 minutes)
Distributor: Witness (
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, narrated by Susan Sarandon.
      This video highlights the situation of sweatshops in New York City where thousands of women from the Chinese and Latino community are sewing garments under dangerous and unfair labor conditions.

Free Trade Slaves (1999, 58 minutes)
Distributor: Films for the Humanities & Sciences (
A report by Joan Salvat, Stef Soetewey and Peter Breuls; TV Catalunya.
      This film examines free trade zones and the problems that accompany them concerning the exploitation of workers and environmental degradation. It examines companies that pay few taxes while paying substandard wages, lock workers in factories overnight, and conduct mass firings when workers attempt to unionize. It was filmed on location in Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Mexico, and Morocco.

H-2 Worker (1990, 67 minutes)
Producer/Director: Stephanie Black.
Distributor: First Run Icarus Films (
      This video examines the exploitation of Jamaican laborers by the Florida sugar cane industry. For six months a year, over 10,000 men from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands come to Florida to perform the brutal task of cutting sugar cane by hand - a job so dangerous and low-paying that Americans refuse to do it.

It Takes a Child, Craig Kielburger's Story: a Journey into Child Labor (1998, 56 minutes)
Director: Judy Jackson
Distributor: Bullfrog Films (
A Judy Jackson film; produced by Judy Films Inc.; produced in association with TV Ontario.
      Craig Kielburger was 12 years old when child labor activist Iqbal Massih was killed in Pakistan. That event changed Craig's life forever. He went on a seven-week trip to South Asia to learn everything he could about child laborers. He is now a passionate, articulate, and effective advocate on their behalf. With a group of his peers, Craig founded "Free the Children," an advocacy organization that has 10,000 members in 20 countries.

Made in Thailand (1999, 33 minutes)
Distributor: Women Make Movies (
A film by Eve-Laure Moros and Linzy Emery.
      In Thailand women make up 90% of the labor force responsible for garments and toys for export by multinational corporations. While probing the impact of the new world order on populations that provide cheap labor in Thailand, the film profiles women newly empowered by the struggle to organize unions, and their campaign for human and workers' rights.

Mickey Mouse goes to Haiti: Walt Disney and the Science of Exploitation (1996, 21 minutes)
Produced by Rudi Stern; edited by Sylvie de Muizon.
Distributor: Crowing Rooster Arts (
      This video reports on the use of cheap labor by the Walt Disney Company in its clothing factories in Haiti and advocates that Disney implement safety standards in contractors' factories, guarantee workers' rights, pay a living wage, and open their plants to independent human rights organizations to monitor conditions.

Something to Hide (1999, 25 minutes)
Distributor: Crowing Rooster Arts (
National Labor Committee.
      This video documents the unregulated operations of offshore corporations contracted by American businesses, and looks at the long, difficult hours that adults and children in developing countries are working to produce brand name American products.

Sweating for a T-shirt (1999, 23 minutes)
A film by Maisa Mendonça and Medea Benjamin.
Distributor: Global Exchange (
      This documentary examines working conditions in sweatshops in Honduras and interviews some of the workers. It advocates for activism in consumer countries such as the U.S. to solve the problem.

Untouchable (Life series) (2000, 24 minutes)
Director: Poul Kjar
Distributor: Bullfrog Films (
TVE International, an Easly Film production with the Danish Broadcast Corporation; produced by Esben Halding, with commentary by Desmond Tutu. A film by Maisa Mendonça and Medea Benjamin.
      This program in the series examines the lives of dalits (also known as outcasts or untouchables) in a small village in southern India. Entire dalit families live as bonded or slave laborers. There are an estimated 100 million dalit child laborers in India. Human rights organizations are now focusing on the dalits' cause and calling for the end this system of discrimination, as heinous as the former apartheid system in South Africa.

Zoned for Slavery: the Child Behind the Label (1995, 23 minutes)
Distributor: Crowing Rooster Arts (
National Labor Committee; a video by David Belle, Katharine Kean and Rudi Stern.
      A look at the retailing of clothing produced by offshore contractors by upscale U.S. clothing companies. An organizing video for the successful campaign to get The Gap to change its labor policies abroad. Gives many insights into the practices of American corporations and the incentives for exploiting child labor in Central America. Good for high school classrooms with adequate discussion, and for labor activists and organizers fighting for stronger labor policies.



Freeman, Carla. High Tech and High Heels in the Global Economy: Women, Work, and Pink-collar Identities in the Caribbean. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.

Louie, Miriam Ching Yoon. Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take on the Global Factory. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2001.

Peña, Devon Gerardo. Terror of the Machine: Technology, Work, Gender, and Ecology on the U.S.-Mexico Border. Austin, TX: CMAS Books, 1997 1st edition.

Ross, Andrew. No Sweat: Fashion, Free Trade, and the Rights of Garment Workers. New York, NY: Verso, 1997.

Ward, Kathryn B. Women Workers and Global Restructuring. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University, 1990.


Web Sites is a multimedia news magazine and on-line community covering the stories and people of the global clothing industry including the hidden stories about the millions of workers around the world who make our clothes, the people who care about how their clothes are made, and the multinational corporations behind the labels. is a project of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, a union representing more than 250,000 apparel, textile and other industry workers in the U.S. and Canada.

Global Exchange Speakers Bureau
      Chie Abad, featured in Behind the Labels, is a former garment worker and now an anti-sweatshop activist and speaker. Contact him through this web page.

Global Exchange Saipan Campaign
      The anti-sweatshop movement scored a major victory in September 2002 when 26 major retailers settled a lawsuit targeting working conditions on the island of Saipan. The settlement capped a bitter, three-year legal struggle between advocates for sweatshop workers and some of the world's largest apparel companies.

Occupational and Safety Health Administration

Sweatshop Watch: Stop Saipan Sweatshops
      Founded in 1995, Sweatshop Watch is a coalition of over 30 labor, community, civil rights, immigrant rights, women's, religious and student organizations, and many individuals, committed to eliminating the exploitation that occurs in sweatshops. Sweatshop Watch serves low-wage workers nationally and globally, with a focus on garment workers in California.

UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

U.S. Department of Labor

Verite: Humanizing the Global Marketplace
      Verité's mission is to ensure that people worldwide work under safe, fair and legal conditions. Verité is an independent, non-profit social auditing and research organization established in 1995.

Witness (Behind the Labels distributor)
      Witness advances human rights advocacy through the use of video and communications technology. In partnership with more than 150 non-governmental organizations and human rights defenders in 50 countries, witness works with grassroots movements for change by providing video technology and assisting its partners to use video as evidence before courts and the United Nations, as a tool for public education, and as a deterrent to further abuse.


Human Rights Video Project is presented by National Video Resources
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tel:212.274.8080 • fax:212.274.8081 • •
Page last updated on March 2011. Comments or suggestions please email