The Sweatshops of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs


Rap mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs claims he gave up sex to train for the November 2 New York City Marathon, which he entered “for the kids.” The workers at the sweatshop in Choloma, Honduras who make Combs’s Sean Jean clothing line give up a lot more than that.

They make 24 cents per $50 Sean Jean sweatshirt, are forced to work unpaid overtime under armed guard, are fired for being pregnant (“for the kids,” right P. Diddy?), and are harassed for trying to use the bathroom or get a drink of water, according to a report released by the National Labor Committee. Eighty per cent of this Southeast Textiles factory in Choloma is used to make Sean Jean wear, the other twenty per cent is used for Rocawear, a line co-founded by Jay-Z and Damon Dash.

This scandal raises the question of what influence music industry figures who get clothing made in sweatshops have upon the Democratic Party, a political institution that works overtime to foster the development of a global sweatshop economy. Jay-Z, along with Phat Farm owner Russell Simmons, recently hosted a fundraiser for Democratic Presidential candidate Al Sharpton at 40/40, Jay-Z’s New York nightclub. P. Diddy backed Democrat Carl McCall for governor of New York last year. According to Electronic Urban Report, Presidential hopefuls Howard Dean, Richard Gephardt, and John Kerry have flown to New York to “curry favor with Russell Simmons.”

We asked the Garment Workers Center in Los Angeles about Simmons’s Phat Farm and they gave a sigh of frustration and explained that, like many clothing companies, Phat Farm gets its work done through a bewildering maze of sub-contractors. GWC did provide RRC with a report in which one of Phat Farm’s contractors admitted it was responsible for embroidering Phat Farm clothes and paid a settlement for unpaid overtime to several workers.

Given the uproar over P. Diddy and sweatshops, shouldn’t Russell Simmons come forward to reveal where and under what conditions Phat Farm clothing is made? The Democratic candidates sucking up to Simmons don’t care-the Democratic party showed its hostility to workers at home and abroad by passing NAFTA and by changing labor law to make it virtually impossible for unions to organize. We do know for sure that neither Phat Farm, Sean Jean, nor Rocawear are made at SweatX (sweatx.net), the unionized Los Angeles clothing company funded by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s, which union vice-president Noel Beasley told RRC has “a UNITE union contract, decent wages and working conditions.” Jackson Browne, Foo Fighters, and the Indigo Girls have used SweatX and Santana is about to follow suit.

In other words, there is a choice. Why are so many entrepreneurs in the music industry making the wrong one?

LEE BALLINGER is coeditor of our favorite newsletter on music and politics, Rock and Rap Confidential. For a sample issue contact Lee at: Rockrap@aol.com


Lee Ballinger, CounterPunch’s music columnist, is co-editor of Rock and Rap Confidential author of the forthcoming book Love and War: My First Thirty Years of Writing. He can be reached at: Rockrap@aol.com

November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
Sam Husseini
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey
November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”