In today's globalized economy, most of the everyday products Americans buy, wear, and eat are produced with labor from the developing world. Our clothes come from countries as remote as Laos or Madagascar; our toys come from China; our seafood and fresh flowers come from Chile, Colombia or Ecuador. ILRF has been at the forefront of connecting the roles of corporations, governments and consumers to the labor conditions endured by workers producing products for the US market.
ILRF seeks to challenge sweatshop conditions globally, and promote ethical alternatives to sweatshop-produced goods. Simultaneously, we seek to change the global trade rules, and enforce existing legal protections for workers around the world. Workers rights need to be enforced just as stringently as investors rights are now enforced under these rules.
Contrary to what many believe, sweatshops are not a positive, or even necessary, step to economic development. Corporations who trample on the rights of workers in the developing world prevent a whole sector of society from sharing in the benefits of growth, silence millions through attacks on freedom of association, handicap the next generation through dangerous workplaces, and set back the rule of law by disobeying local, national and international labor provisions. Most poignantly, the scourge of child labor robs young people of the schooling necessary to raise themselves out of poverty and contribute to modern economies. Now more than ever, activists and consumers alike are demanding that corporations adopt more humane labor practices, and be held accountable for sweatshop conditions in their factories and farms.
ILRF's Creating a SweatFree World Campaign focuses on sweatshops (particularly in the garment industry), working conditions in food and agriculture supply chains, strategies to enforce laws that protect workers' rights, and the policies (such as NAFTA and CAFTA) that lead to systemic labor rights violations. The organization's Wal-Mart "Nailed" Campaign leads speaking tours and tracks labor violations in the retail giant's supply chain. ILRFs Fairness in Flowers campaign raises awareness in the US about labor rights violations and health and safety problems in the cut flower industry.