From North Pole to Sweatshop

etchsketch1110.jpgThis may come as a shock to low culture readers under the age of 10, but I must tell you that the movie Elf is a pack of lies! Damn, dirty lies.
First off, there is no Santa Claus. Actually, there was but he died. Second, Etch-a-Sketches are not made at the North Pole by elves, they’re made in China by exploited workers.
According to The New York Times article Ruse in Toyland: Chinese Workers’ Hidden Woe by Joseph Kahn, Ohio Art, maker of the Etch-a-Sketch subcontracts manufacturing to a Chinese company called Kin Ki whose employees are paid 24 cents-an-hour. (That’s less than the 33 cents-an-hour minimum wage in the region.) Writes Kahn:

Kin Ki employees, mostly teenage migrants from internal provinces, say they work many more hours and earn about 40 percent less than the company claims. They sleep head-to-toe in tiny rooms. They staged two strikes recently demanding they get paid closer to the legal minimum wage.
Most do not have pensions, medical insurance or work contracts. The company’s crib sheet recommends if inspectors press to see such documents, workers should “intentionally waste time and then say they can’t find them,” according to company memos provided to The New York Times by employees.

And that’s not all. Kahn does double duty, reporting on how the opening of the Chinese factory hurt workers in Bryan, Ohio where the toy had been made by union workers for 40 years. Sketchy, indeed.

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