Build-A-Bear Workshop or Sweatshop? Local Company Cited for Child Labor Violations

May 21, 2009 at 1:07 pm
[image-1] Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor cited St. Louis-based company Build-A-Bear Workshop for child labor violations in five states and the makers of the cuddly little stuffed animals were slapped with more than $25,000 in fines.

But while the phrase "child labor" conjures images of 8 year-old Filipino girls sewing soles on $120 sneakers for 2 cents an hour, that's not exactly the case in this instance. The violations stemmed from 16 and 17 year-old employees who were allowed to operate a trash compacter and "ride in a freight elevator that did not have an assigned operator." 

(Somewhere, Nike CEO Phil Knight just chuckled, shook his head, and muttered "amateurs.")

The Department of Labor said in their news release about the violations that Build-A-Bear, whose first store opened in the Galleria, "cooperated fully throughout the investigation and has taken the necessary steps to assure future compliance."

So there, now you can sleep easy knowing a little girl didn't lose her finger stitching together that over-priced furry mess of yours. How's that for guilt-free?