Daniel Tortorice’s Friday column [“Fair Labor Standards for Some”] criticizes the proposal to have MIT join the Worker’s Rights Consortium and Fair Labor Association and draw up a code of conduct for apparel factories. Unfortunately, what Mr. Tortorice calls his “economic” logic seems divorced from economic research, and it is clear from his column that he has not even read the proposal he is critiquing.
First of all, Tortorice uses the vast majority of his column to criticize the “living wage” and “voluntary overtime” provisions in the proposal. In fact, neither of these provisions are in the proposal, and the proposal even explicitly mentions their absence on page 15. In addition, he claims to use “economic” logic when presenting the idea that raising labor standards results in increased joblessness. Again, Tortorice has not read the proposal’s provisions that prevent this from occurring, and also seems unfamiliar with the latest economics research, which has demonstrated that while this phenomenon may seem logical to those divorced from the actual events that take place in factories, these actions do not occur under the framework proposed and are a result of the nature of the international apparel industry and the organizations inspecting it.
Finally, Tortorice calls the proposal “irresponsible” for “ignoring” the economic consequences of its provisions. In fact, the proposal was constructed in cooperation with the top labor economists in the country, including several MIT professors who signed onto the proposal. Most notably, this includes Professor Dara O’Rourke, who is widely regarded as the world’s top international expert on the issue.
Clearly, Tortorice needs to learn a new sort of logic -- that is, reading and understanding material before commenting on it. For those who would like to follow this alternative logic, the complete proposal is made available for public viewing at
Sanjay Basu ’02
United Trauma Relief