Saturday, November 24, 2007
And they didn't even take a vow of poverty
Crucifixes allegedly made in sweatshops ByDavid Freedlander
St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trinity Church pulled crucifixes from their gift shops on Tuesday after stunning allegations that the items are produced in Chinese sweatshops. Officials from both churches vowed to keep the
wall crucifixes off the shelves while they investigate, as the faithful and religious thinkers alike expressed dismay at the moral implications of the allegations.
Charles Kernaghan, the executive director of the Na- tional Labor Council, the advocacy group that released the report, called on St. Patrick’s “to move immediately, decisively and with compassion to clean up the factories and to guarantee that the rights of workers are firmly respected.” The report alleged that the crucifixes, which mostly feature the figure of Jesusattached to a wooden or metal cross, come from a factory in the Guangdong province of China where young women, some as young as 15, work more than 90 hours a week for a little more than 26 cents an hour, less than half of Chi-
na’s meager minimum wage. Kernaghan said facto- ry workers snuck out evidence and gave it to the labor group.
Kernaghan added that the crucifixes, which cost as little as $1.40 to produce, are sold in church gift shops for $17.95. “That’s a markup that would make even Nike blush,” Kernaghan said. The archdiocese said that it was investigating the mat-
ter, but accused the labor group of trying to embarrass the church. “This individual did not contact us prior to using the
cathedral as a stage for a press conference,” said Joe Zwill- ing, archdiocese spokesman. “I think he was trying to ex-
ploit the cathedral.” The crosses detailed in the report come from the Singer Company, a Mt. Vernon-based “inspirational
jewelry” concern. “We are not a Nike or a big corporation that can inspect ever single factory,” said Gerald Singer, presi-
dent of the company. “My God, making religious ob- jects in a sweatshop, that’s the last thing we need.A member of a labor group holds up crucifixes that were allegedly made in Chinese sweatshops and sold
in churches such as St.Patrick’s Cathedral. (Jefferson Siegel)