Monday, April 2, 2012

China: Bloody Factories, Toxic Chemicals | Pulitzer Center

China: Bloody Factories, Toxic Chemicals | Pulitzer Center:

If Daisey had encountered a labor advocate I’ll call Wang Liang, he would have been able to cite real people. Wang, who asked that I use a pseudonym, is a former toy factory worker turned self-taught or “barefoot” lawyer in his early 30s. Barefoot lawyers file lawsuits on behalf of migrant workers, often their only option for recourse in China.

Wang took me on a tour that even Daisey couldn’t have dreamed up. We traveled through hardscrabble sections of Dongguan’s Tangxia Town, a factory town near the coast in Guangdong. He introduced me to a worker fired for organizing a union, a man denied overtime payments and a woman whose symptoms mirrored those of the Wintek workers. The notes about her on his printed spreadsheet were: “leg can’t move.”

That woman is Shi Yuping, a mother of two with short black hair, capris and flip-flops. Shi is in her late thirties but looks much older. We sat at a picnic table outside a convenience store as Shi told her story. Her husband Jiang Ancai stood nearby and listened.