Look Who's Sweating Now

After federal agents raided an El Monte (Calif.) sweatshop last August that had enslaved 72 Thai immigrants, Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich wasted no time. He ran straight to the media with the names of several large retailers whose names had been found on boxes in the dingy shop. Angry and embarrassed, Sears, Montgomery Ward, and Dayton Hudson agreed to meet Reich in New York in mid-September to discuss ways to combat the use of sweatshops. Even though the chains aren't liable if they unknowingly sell illegally made goods, they promised to adopt a statement of principles calling on their suppliers to adhere to federal labor laws. Retailers fervently hoped that this would end the public-relations debacle and get that pesky Reich off their backs.

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