Blog: February 2009

Child Labor and Employee Free Choice

As you can see EFCA is an anti-poverty initiative which is often the root of child labor.  Without legislation like EFCA, we will continue to live in a world where the employers have such power over the lives of workers, where workers become simple pawns in a game of chess.

I applaud the Child Labor Coalition and the many other organizations for showing their support for EFCA and explaining how this isn’t just about unions but is about giving families and workers the ability to determine their own fate rather than it left up to the big bosses.

Vice President of Colombia speaks at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

USLEAP’s Program Coordinator, Lupita Aguila participated in the protest outside, while Stephen Coats, the Director of USLEAP, and I attended the event inside. In a small ballroom within a downtown hotel, we were served fresh fruit, muffins and beverages, along with an elaborate butter molding for our croissants. I opened the Program booklet and immediately noticed the Monsanto logo at the top of the page, the sponsorship of the event, which highlighted the business perspective of the audience and the corporate atmosphere. I prepared myself.

Dress Sweatfree

With the end of New York Fashion week and the beginning of London Fashion Week, clothes are definitely on everyone’s mind and ethical clothing is hopefully next on the list. The Shop with a Conscience Guide produced annually by the International Labor Rights Forum and SweatFree Communities helps you be an ethical consumer with suggestions for a variety of clothing stores that sell goods that are made in worker-friendly environments.

Will Gates Foundation Funding Help Cocoa Farmers?

The new grant is part of the Gates Foundation's Agricultural Development initiative, which has come under major criticism already.  The Gates Foundation has invested heavily in the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa which essentially increases production of genetically modified crops and industrialized agriculture, which can end up being highly profitable for multinational corporations.

Colombia: International Day of the Flower Worker

With the high demand for flowers during this time, companies often promote a “bonus” for workers who are interested in working from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. A few of these workers have yet to see these bonuses and it is more than likely that they are not the only ones. The need for extra income is very common among flower workers, especially because many of them are getting paid only the minimum wage of around $230 dollars per month. However, there are certain payment subsidies for healthcare and pensions that are required by law which often leave workers with only 40% of their salaries to feed and provide basic necessities to their families.

The Day of the Flower Workers

Flower industry advocates like corporations and Colombian banks go so far as to describe women workers as “a ready supply of cheap female labor for sorting and packing the flowers,” (from an industry guidebook written in 1993). It is also a common belief to assume that women are more ideal to work with flowers since, for some reason, women have more nimble fingers and provide more delicate handling of flowers. Due to the repetitive and rapid motions of working with flowers, many women develop stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.


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