Blog: June 2009

Military Coup in Honduras as Obama meets with Colombian Human Rights Violator

The Obama administration should be praised for issuing a statement condemning the coup in Honduras, standing by democracy and rule of law and separating the United States from its' past backing of military coups in Latin America. This is a step in the right direction but should it take a coup for Obama to address the increasing civil unrest amongst the majority of the poor, marginalized peoples of Latin America? Shouldn't the fact that within the past decade, Latin American citizens have expressed clear dissatisfaction with free market development policies by electing left-leaning regimes time and time again?

Immigration Rights are a Labor Issue

Grace Chang's book, Disposable Domestics, is as relevant today as it was ten years ago. Analyzing mostly Korean, Filipina and Latina immigrants, she argues that immigration patterns do not only correlate with poverty, but with US influence and interference in a country. Chang notes that "the extraction of resources by the United States and other First World nations forces many people in the Third World to migrate and follow their countries' wealth." We can see this playing out before our very eyes with the violations of multinational corporations in foreign countries. They save money through lax environmental laws and abuse labor laws they know will not or cannot be enforced.

Obama: Don't Let Uribe Convince You of Progress in Colombia

Uribe will claim that he has made important labor law reforms to address the less egregious, but very widespread problem of subcontracting and "labor cooperatives" that has denied basic labor rights to hundreds of thousands of Colombian workers in all sectors. Decrees meant to address the problem have done nothing on the ground because Uribe has not demonstrated the political will to enforce such measures. Women workers have lost at least 10% of their salaries on average, due to Uribe's labor reforms. Uribe will show that the cut-flower sector has made progress under the free trade model.

Fair Expectations: Rainforest Alliance v. Fairtrade

Before we can properly assess the democratic nature of certification, we must understand how these organizations are structured. An ideal initiative has a standard setting body and monitoring body, both completely autonomous. The standard setting body is rather self explanatory; it sets the standards that producers must meet in order to qualify for certification. The standards can be broken down into four separate categories: social, ecological, trade, and price. The monitoring body's job is at the ground level, assuring that producing farms are honestly run and meet the rigorous requirements.

Rainforest Alliance v. Fairtrade: How Do Their Structures Stack Up?

Relationships to Corporations

Moving Toward Transparency in the Electronics Industry

Recently, Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington introduced an amendment to a defense spending bill that calls on the Department of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to "produce a map of mineral-rich zones and areas under the control of armed groups in the DRC" and to make the map publicly available.  The map will be called the "Congo Conflict Minerals Map" and will be updated every 180 days.  This amendment is an important component of the work that many people are starting to do to increase transparency in the mining sector in the DRC, linked to the electronics industry.

Fighting for Their Jobs, Eagle Workers & Allies Rally in New Bedford

Present at the gathering to express their stalwart support for keeping the work in New Bedford were Councilmembers Jane Gonsalves and Brian Gomes, State Representative Tony Cabral, and representatives for Senator John Kerry and Rep. Barney Frank, each of whom delivered passionate, hopeful speeches about the value of a worker’s voice and the significance of this struggle both in present and future economies.

“While we watch the equipment being moved out of the plant,” wrote a worker in a letter addressed to Army officials, “I would also like you to know that the workforce includes people who pay home mortgages, parents of young children who both work at Eagle, pregnant women and middle-aged people. All of us depend on this employment.” 

After My Time At International Labor Rights Forum

Flowers; my grandmother buys flowers maybe every so often. She, with vases, puts them up in her room, her living room, and sometimes even in the window seal. Through ILRF I’ve herd and seen how workers from Ecuador and Colombia get mistreated, verbally and physically abused, sexually assaulted, and more in order for them to either keep their job or get a job. Flower workers do a lot to maintain, grow, and care for the flowers, I think of this everyday when I wake up and walk into my living room every morning and see a vase full with gorgeous flowers. I love flowers and so does she but now I see the real thrones that flowers bring.

Are Mexican Workers 'stealing our jobs'?

Mexican Job Losses

While Mexico's share of the total North American auto production rose between 3-4 percent in 2008, exports from Mexico's auto sector actually dropped by almost 57 percent between January 2008 and January 2009. This has meant dramatic job losses in many communities in states that are highly dependent on the auto sector, such as Puebla, Coahuila and the State of Mexico.


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