by Paul Garver
Who says that Mitt Romney’s private equity investments never created jobs? We now have proof that one of those investments has created thousands of jobs.
But before we rush to elect Romney as U.S. President based on his record in job creation, we might inquire what kind of jobs these were, where they are, and what jobs were lost as a result of his investment.
Romney boasted to his donors in his speech to his donors in Boca Raton:
“When I was back in my private equity days, we went to China to buy a factory there. It employed about 20,000 people. And they were almost all young women between the ages of about 18 and 22 or 23…. And they work in these huge factories, they made various small appliances. And as we were walking through this facility, seeing them work, the number of hours they worked per day, the pittance they earned, living in dormitories with little bathrooms at the end of maybe 10 rooms. And the rooms they have 12 girls per room. Three bunk beds on top of each other…. And around this factory was a fence, a huge fence with barbed wire and guard towers.”
Thanks to a detailed investigative report by the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, we now know that Romney’s wholly-controlled private equity Brookside Fund (an associate of Bain Capital) invested $23 million from April 1998 through August 2000 in the Global Tech Appliances factory in the Galaxy Industrial Area in Dongguan, China. The factory then produced and still produces small electrical appliances almost exclusively for the U.S. market (Sun Beam, Hamilton Beach, Mr. Coffee, Proctor Silex, Revlon and Vidal Sassoon).
In 1998-2000 those 20,000 young Chinese girls earned between 24 cents and 31 cents an hour. The American workers in the electrical appliances industry whom they displaced would have earned between $12.51 and $13.23 an hour. Mr. Romney’s private equity investment helped create tens of thousands of poorly paid sweatshop jobs in China and thereby displaced thousands of modestly paid jobs under decent conditions that American workers had once held.
The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, directed by Charles Kernaghan, has just investigated current conditions at the Global-Tech Appliances factory in Dongguan. Low pay, brutal working conditions, excessive overtime hours of work, and filthy crowded dorm rooms remain unchanged. Mitt Romney, whose initial visit to the factory in 1998 left such a strong impression on him that he spoke of it fourteen years later, had evidently made no effort whatsoever to improve conditions at the factory in which he invested $23 million.
Read the entire report. Below the line I have sampled a few photos and excerpts, all available from the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights under a Creative Commons license. If you were planning to sit out this presidential election, you might want to reconsider whether the USA can abide a President as morally callous and/or oblivious as Mitt Romney at its helm.
Filed under: Economy, Fair Trade, Global organizing, Low wage workers, Politics, The enemy, Uncategorized | Tagged: Dongguan, Global Tech, MItt Romney, sweatshops | 1 Comment »