Blog: January 2009

Stop Playing Politics With the Department of Labor!

It is time for us to stop
the madness. When our Congress recently debated the stimulus package,
constantly we heard pundits and politicians talking about who would “win” the
debate or score the most points during this debate. The fact that we are
allowing the Department of Labor to be leaderless during this time of economic
turmoil for workers around the globe just shows how politics is trumping
patriotism at every step of the game. The last election was about change and we
as voters and workers need to say enough!

Super Bowl Halftime Show Sponsor Exploits Workers

a long struggle, workers finally held the first free and fair union election
and signed their first contract negotiated by a democratically elected and
independent union leadership in August 2008. 
The agreement was a major step forward in the long struggle of workers
to protect their rights.  However, since
the time the agreement was signed, Firestone management has failed to implement
many of the important improvements in the new contract.  For example, the new contract reduced the
size of the production quota, but many workers throughout the plantation report

Bittersweet Chocolate This Valentine’s Day? No Thanks!

So this Valentine’s Day, stay away from the bitterness. Check out freelance journalist Steffanie Rivers from Dallas TX who plans to go on a chocolate fast from the 1st of February. You can also check out our bittersweet chocolate scorecard before you purchase your sweets this year so that you can go for the sweetest treat. Or join us in sending letters to chocolate companies to stop purchasing cocoa fueled by child labor.

WalMart and the Employee Free Choice Act

During the election last November, The Wall Street Journal reported that WalMart managers ran meetings to push their political agenda on their workers while acting as though they were remaining neutral. They would say “I am not telling you how to vote, but if the Democrats win, this bill (the Employee Free Choice Act) will pass and you won’t have a vote on whether you want a union.” WalMart spokesperson David Tovar said that “They believe the Employee Free Choice Act is a bad bill and they have been on record as opposing it for some time.” Tovar also stated that, this is the reason they feel it was important to educate their workers about the bill.

Could there be a Sweatshop in your Neighborhood?

Around the same time last summer, a factory called Jin Shun, located in Queens, New York, was investigated by the Labor Department and inspectors called the situation one of the worst sweatshops they have seen in years.  They found that the factory had withheld over 5.3 million dollars in wages from it’s workers.  Factory workers interviewed during the investigation reported working 66 hour weeks, six days a week, sewing clothing for companies including Banana Republic, Urban Apparel, Macy’s, Gap, and Victoria’s Secret.  Worst of all, employees were given written instructions (in both English and Mandarin, since

MLK and Worker Rights

Tim Newman, Campaigns Assistant, International Labor Rights Forum

As we honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. today, it is a great opportunity to remember his legacy of supporting labor rights and economic justice.  Check out this excellent video below about the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers' strike which was bolstered by support from MLK.

ILO has Launched a New Project in Baluchistan, Pakistan

This technical support of the ILO to Baluchistan coincides with the organization’s ninetieth anniversary, which demonstrates their steadfast pledge to support safe working conditions for workers in all parts of the world. The organization has attempted to draw together local governments, government agencies, and worker organizations in order to manage in the most effective manner. In Baluchistan, the plan is to identify children who work and to enroll them in educational facilities while at the same time providing safety nets for the families. The International Labor Organization firmly believes that an education for the young children in Baluchistan (and all other parts of the world) is imperative for jobs that would elevate ones social and economic opportunities.

More thoughts on Sec. of Labor-Designate Hilda Solis

One disappointment from the hearing was that the Senators did not ask more questions about the Department of Labor's international work and that while there was a lot of talk about keeping jobs in the US and stopping the race to the bottom, there did not seem to be much discussion about the role the Department of Labor can play in raising standards for workers globally.  Senator Harkin did bring up a very important issue at the hearing which was the importance of funding the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) at the Department of Labor and ensuring that the appointees in the next Administration are strong advocates for worker rights including ending child labor (about 89 minutes into the

My Business Management Class and the Employee Free Choice Act

Many of my classmates seemed to be anti-union. While I don’t know if these negative views of unions came from management classes, their families or somewhere completely different, it was interesting that many of the students, who I could see as CEO’s of large companies someday, weren’t interested in unions. They didn’t see how unions and businesses could work together to produce competitive products and services while also giving employees fair compensation. For some of the other students in my class it seemed like it was always an us versus them type of situation. I think that the goal is for unions to form a mutually beneficial relationship between employees and employers. This is why we have the National Labor Code.


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