Blog: June 2009

US Immigration: A Case Study for Labor Rights Abuses

Similar to many countries around the world, the US bares the responsibility of the poor treatment of immigrant laborers. Farm laborers, especially, are often marginalized in the media as much attention is given to those workers in an industrial or commercial setting. In a recent article in the Daily News,  the US Senate has failed to support the US House of Representatives in passing a fair labor act for farm workers.

Ethix Merch Interview with Bjorn Claeson of SweatFree Communities

Ethix Merch: In recent years, the movement has focused on utilizing the leverage of large consumers like states, cities, universities, and school districts. While these projects develop, how can individuals help the cause?

In a related question, do you think it is realistic for consumers to buy only guaranteed sweatshop-free clothing for themselves and their children, or should they focus on supporting the movement in other ways?

Workers' Rights in Guatemala

Guatemala’s increasing violence against trade unionists has earned it a deserving place on the list of world’s most dangerous place for unionists.  Thirty eight labor activists have been killed in the last few years, alongside 2,000 Guatemalans who died a violent death as of May this year.   The impunity rate for crime in general is an astounding 98%.  Even in the rare case that a company is ordered to pay a price for violations, the government cannot enforce it.  Thus accountability and justice are a backbone to improving labor rights but unfortunately this isn’t realized in Guatemala. 

Human Rights Activists Protest NBA-Linked Sweatshops

The NBA's deal with Russell is the apparel firm's biggest contract.
Indeed, it is the biggest equipment deal in professional sports.

United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS),
along with its union and human rights allies, have sought, without
success so far, to meet with NBA Commissioner David Stern to discuss
Russell's labor practices. It has launched one website to provide more information about the campaign and another to encourage fans to write to Stern.

It's World Day Against Child Labor!

This week, ILRF Executive Director Bama Athreya is in Geneva at the International Labor Conference, the ILO's annual gathering. ILRF helped to organize an event yesterday about the continued use of forced child labor in Uzbekistan's cotton industry. The event featured speakers including Kailash Satyarthi of the Global March Against Child Labor as well as many other leading figures from human rights and labor organizations, government officials and companies.  The agenda from the event is available online here.

Slighted at Every Age

It means that the cumulative effect of having to work both inside and outside of the home at such an early age ensures that young girls will have virtually no time to learn and acquire skills that could help them qualify for a future job in a managerial position.  It means that the young girls will never receive wages that are above poverty level, even as adult workers due to their lack of education, and it means that the notion that only men are qualified for managerial positions will be perpetuated.  Female workers will always be stuck in this vicious cycle if we don’t learn that girls must be given equal access to education at an early age. 

“Househelps:” another form of child labor

This deeply rooted tradition and the culture’s acceptance of child labor prevents many children from attending school which means they have no opportunity to escape the life of a househelp and the cycle of poverty. A 2003 ILO/IPEC-Ghana Statistical Service survey on child labor found that out of the 2.47 million children engaged in some form of economic activity, 64.3 percent of them still attended school.

UN Warns of "Rising Intimidation" In Colombia

This is most troubling for the Colombian government as it made a big
push in the spring of 2007, headed by Colombian Vice-President
Francisco Santos himself, to plead their case for a Free Trade
Agreement (FTA) largely on the basis of their claim that these
allegations against the former DAS chief were without merit.

Moreover, all of this comes even as U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary
Locke publicly stated that "Colombia needs to address the issue of
violence against union leaders before the U.S. Congress votes on a free
trade agreement with the South American nation." See, Story.

Artists Show Support for Employee Free Choice Act

By Mary Tharin, ILRF intern

A new video has just been released featuring almost fifty popular actors and artists showing their support for the Employee Free Choice Act. Among those featured are Amy Brenneman, Nancy Giles, and Esai Morales, all explaining why the legislation is an essential step in the effort to take power from corporations and put it back in the hands of workers.


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