The Northern Marianas are the site of America’s most shoddy labor practices. Human “brokers” bring thousands there to work as sex slaves and in cramped sweatshop garment factories where clothes (complete with “Made in U.S.A.” tag) have been produced for all the major brands.
The workers are “paid barely half the U.S. minimum hourly wage,” and are “forced to live behind barbed wire in squalid shacks minus plumbing, work 12 hours a day, often seven days a week, without any of the legal protections U.S. workers are guaranteed.”
Thanks to Jack Abramoff, who lobbied against better worker protections, that’s the way conditions stayed. But Abramoff couldn’t do his work alone. McClatchy reported this weekend:
Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) helped Jack Abramoff secure a lucrative lobbying contract with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in 1999 and then assisted the now-disgraced lobbyist’s efforts to route federal money to the islands and defend its garment industry, newly obtained documents show.
The California Republican accepted $14,000 in contributions from Abramoff… The first contribution came just a few weeks before Doolittle endorsed the election of a key commonwealth politician crucial to Abramoff winning the contract. The last Abramoff contribution came as the Northern Marianas lobbying contract was expiring in December 2001.
Doolittle’s excuse: he had “traveled to the Northern Marianas in 1999 on a congressional trip and saw none of the abuses or ‘reported inhumane working conditions.’” Which obviously means they weren’t happening.