Some of you may have heard of Victoria’s Dirty Little Secret, a campaign by Forest Ethics asking the lingerie company to reduce their carbon footprint and cut back on the excessive mailing of their catalog.

While Victoria’s Secret cleaned up their paper mess, the latest issue of ColorLines reports that our dear Victoria has been caught again, along with Banana Republic, Gap, Macy’s, and Urban Apparel. This time for contracting sweat labor from Jin Shun factory in Queens, NY, where about 100 Chinese immigrants toiled 10 hours a day, seven day a week, for an hourly wage of $3.79. Workers were coached to lie to labor inspectors, saying they were paid over $7.75, “depending on the job complexity.”

The New York Times quotes wage violations so widespread that workers were ultimately cheated of $5.3 million, the biggest payback case ever filed by the State Labor Department.

While representatives from each of the apparel companies express their concern, staunch allegiance to zero-tolerance policies, and willingness to cooperate with authorities, the loophole for such labor violations remains.

Do you know who made your latest holiday acquisitions and under what conditions?  Unless you have a sister who knits like I do, probably not. While an immediate (and fun!) solution is to get to know your local producers and support your local economy, we must also push our favorite companies, elected officials, and regulating bodies to clean up their act, so that our giving spirit does not hinder that of another, whether here in the U.S. or abroad.

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