Barack Obama’s campaign store is selling a $95 sweatshirt designed by Alexander Wang, who is facing a class action suit in federal court because his company allegedly runs a sweatshop where workers work 100 hour weeks and are verbally abused for their race or ethnicity.
In the class action suit, the garment workers claim that in addition to the 100 hour work weeks, they faced “intentional affliction of emotional distress” including being “regularly called ‘lazy,’ ‘stupid'” among other names and suffering “disparaging references” to their “national origins.” Fearful of being fired, the workers were also allegedly told that “if anyone complained they would be summarily terminated.” The workers also claim that Wang, who is Taiwanese, had uniformly white managers who discriminated against the workers, who were all Asian and Latino.
The lead attorney representing the workers, C.K. Lee, said he thinks the presence of the sweatshirt is “inappropriate … hopefully, the (Obama) campaign would be more educated on the background of Alexander Wang and his sweatshop facilities and the abuse of worker’s rights … I wish Obama would be more-or at least his campaign would be more in tune with what’s going on.”
In August of 2010, Obama was commended by no less than Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa for filing a complaint against Guatemala for labor violations under the Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
In December of 2011, Obama, as he announced new rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor that would provide minimum wage and overtime protections for workers who provided in-home care services for the elderly and infirmed, said:
“The nearly 2 million in-home care workers across the country should not have to wait a moment longer for a fair wage. They work hard and play by the rules and they should see that work and responsibility rewarded.”
All of this just reinforces the perception that Obama has one set of rules for everyone else and one for himself. If workers have to suffer for his campaign to be successful, that’s a small price to pay in order to reelect The One.