October 28, 2003
Here's an example of a brand founded on attributes of arrogance, anger, status and power, brought to task in the same way as the biggest players. It's a mini-Nike scenario. I'm especially interested in their responses. In cases like these there are other agendas at play. It will be fascinating to learn who is backing the nationwide tour designed to discredit Sean John. The brand has been riding high for some time now, unchallenged. Rap culture often celebrates blatant materialistic statements, so this scenario of exploitation is clearly a moment ripe for self-examination by Mr. Diddy.
P. Diddy Accused of Using Sweatshop Labor
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: October 28, 2003
Filed at 9:11 a.m. ET
NEW YORK (AP) -- Sean John, the clothing line of rap music mogul Sean ``P. Diddy'' Combs, is under scrutiny from a workers' rights group for allegedly using laborers from a Honduran sweatshop.
The director of the anti-sweatshop National Labor Committee, Charles Kernaghan, planned to release a report Tuesday detailing poor working conditions at the Southeast Textiles factory in Choloma, Honduras, where Sean John clothes are made.
Workers there are subjected to daily body searches, contaminated drinking water and 11- to 12-hour daily shifts, the report said. In exchange, they are paid 24 cents for each $50 Sean John sweat shirt they sew.
Officials with the clothing label said they were unaware of the conditions alleged by Kernaghan.
``We had absolutely no knowledge of the situation; however, we take these matters very seriously,'' said Jeff Tweedy, executive vice president of Sean John. ``We have a director of compliance who will be looking into this matter immediately.''
The study also found women were given mandatory pregnancy tests, and that those who tested positive were fired, Kernaghan said.
The abuses are violations of Honduran labor laws but are rarely enforced for fear of corporate divestment, Kernaghan said. His organization's repeated attempts to contact Sean John have gone without a response, he said.
Kernaghan was in New York to release the report with a worker from the factory, 19-year-old Lydda Eli Gonzalez. The two are embarking on a multi-city tour to expose what they say are harsh conditions at the factory.
According to the report, about 80 percent of the Southeast Textiles factory production is for the Sean John clothing line. The other 20 percent is for Rocawear, co-founded by rapper and producer Jay-Z and rap music producer Damon Dash.
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