About the Song
Pat Humphries & Bev Grant collaborated in writing this song. Pat wrote the chorus. They worked on the verses together with Bev responsible for most of the text of the verses. Bev started writing it for a conference United Students Against Sweatshops conference that was taking place somewhere in the D.C. area. The 2 artists met once in person before that to solidify the song as much as we could & then they traveled down to D.C. together to perform it.
"Sweat shops" is a term that originally used to refer to textile factories in the U.S. where women - many of whom were immigrants - toiled under terrible conditions. As the song says, most such textile mills have moved to countries of the global South, where women work long hours for very low pay to create clothing for much more wealthy people in North America & Europe.
Pat recorded the song on her 2001 "Hands" recording. Bev recorded it with the Brooklyn Women's Chorus (which she founded & directs) on the chorus' 2003 album "The Power of Song".
We sew the clothes, the ones that you buy
We can’t afford them for ourselves, the price is too high
Our families need food. We don’t need name brands
We’d just like a fair share of the money that’s made off of our working hands
(up 2) G - D - / C G D - / G - C - / G D G -
We need the right to organize (No sweat!) - No forced overtime (No sweat!)
Clean drinking water (No sweat!) - Clean air to breathe
No bosses screaming, no forced pregnancy tests, the right to speak & be heard
We are workers spreading the word: "No sweat!"
D - / G - / D - / G G7 / C D / Em C / D - G -
There’s lint in the air, our lungs are on fire
We work behind tall cement walls topped with barbed wire
We don’t have a voice, so we can’t complain
They just kick us out whenever we shout or cry out in pain
(bridge) They call us sweatshop workers, we live from hand to mouth
We took the jobs you lost up north when the companies moved south
We don’t have a union, we barely get by
We need your support, we need you to join in when you hear our cry - "No sweat!"
C - G - / - - D - / C - Em C / G D G -
Our wages are low, our hours are long
They dock our pay if we do anything they say is wrong
They hire us girls. They think we’ll obey
But we feel the power when we work together & when we say: "No Sweat!"
- lyrics & music by Bev Grant & Pat Humphries (c) authors. All rights reserved.