December, 01 2000 |  Share

Unmasking Starvation Wages - Bugle Boy Cargo Jeans for Sale in Kohl's

December 2000

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  • Women in Nicaragua paid 31 cents for each pair of jeans they sew;

  • Wages amount to less than one percent of the retail price for the jeans.

Internal company production control sheets show that 36,290 pairs of Bugle Boy Cargo jeans--carrying the style number 9177--were sewn on Line 1 at the Chentex factory in Nicaragua. This style number, 9177, then allowed us to track down the labor cost.

Other company documents smuggled out of the Chentex factory show that there are 54 steps required to complete style no. 9177 Cargo jeans. These would be the most complicated jeans sewn at Chentex: six-pocket jeans with button flaps on the two back and two side pockets. This is why it takes 54 steps rather than the more usual 38 steps required to complete a standard 5-pocket pair of jeans.

The company assigns a piece rate value to each specific operation, breaking the pay rate down to one-thousandths of a cent.

The total piece rate paid for all 54 operations comes to 3.984 cordobas, or just 31 U.S. cents. ($1.00 = 12.9 cordobas)

Given that these Bugle Boy Cargo Millenium Series jeans retail for at least $34, the wages paid to the sewers in Nicaragua amounted to just 9/10ths of one percent of the retail price.