Blog: November 2009

LL Bean Responds with Grace

 Here is the company's public statement, issued today:  "Since this issue was brought to our attention by the International Labor Rights Forum, we have begun contacting suppliers to convey to them that we do not intend to use Uzbekistan cotton. We have also agreed to join a coalition of organizations working with ILRF to develop next steps toward the elimination of Uzbekistan cotton in the supply chain. This is a complex issue that we believe is best addressed on a collaborative basis. We are pleased to work with ILRF, and others, to find solutions. "

Honduran Workers Win Major Victory with the help of Students and Activists like You!

This victory came after a long U.S. campaign, organized by United Students Against Sweatshops. Honduran union leaders and previous Jerzees de Honduras workers toured the U.S. all year, speaking up about Russell's anti-union tactics. 89 colleges and universities cut their apparel contracts with Russell out of protest.  According to the New York Times, some of these contracts were worth over $1 million dollars in sales.

Shop with a Conscience Consumer Guide Launched

While it can often be difficult to fully understand where a product we purchase comes from and all the steps that are involved in the supply chain, there is hope.  This hope comes in the form of the 2010 Shop with a Conscience Consumer and Wholesale Guide release by the International Labor Rights Forum and SweatFree Communities today.  The guide features apparel companies that are committed to workers rights by either sourcing or producing their products from factories where workers have independent unions or worker-owned cooperatives.  The guide offers consumers an opportunity to purchase well-made and fashionable apparel along with the knowledge that their purcha

Pakistani Labor Leader Killed by Suicide Bomber

Along with his work in the PWF, Master Khudadad was well known for helping to establish the Bonded Labor Liberation Front (BLLF).  In an article written by Farooq Tariq about Master Khudadad’s death, he said: “Master Khudadad's main contribution to the working-class movement in Pakistan has been his role in establishing Bonded Labor Liberation Front. He helped many to flee from the chains of slavery.”

Government Purchasing Policy Forum in Washington, DC

When workers rights are not respected and instead greater attention is given to the company that can provide the lowest bid, the use of taxpayer money can be used to help facilitate the race to bottom.  While some restrictions do exist on where states can source from, these restrictions are often limited in scope.  For example, there might be restrictions on sourcing from places that use child labor or indentured servitude, but no mention of other labor rights concerns such as the freedom of association or the amount of money workers are paid for their work.DSCF0990 copy

Assassination of Farmworker Organizer Santiago Rafael and the FLOC Campaign to Organize Tobacco Workers in the Southern US

On April 9th 2007 FLOC organizer Santiago Rafael was brutally tortured and murdered in the union’s office in Mexico. Within a month of the crime FLOC compelled the Mexican government to work with authorities in Nuevo Leon to investigate the murder. Local police were able to apprehend one of the murderers through telephone records. Nuevo Leon authorities then tried to use the apprehension to close the case right away, claiming it was an isolated case of violence with no political motive behind it. However, as Velazquez said, what this case truly reflects is the dangerous situation FLOC organizers put themselves in by attempting to rectify the corruption that is endemic in the recruitment of Mexican laborers.

Rachel Maddow takes on corporations defending child and forced labor

As Sirota and Maddow note, the report in Inside US Trade stated that:

Business groups are worried by the potential effects of provisions
banning the import of all goods made with convict labor, forced labor,
or forced or indentured child labor that were included in a customs
bill sponsored by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and
Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-IA)...

What does Kraft's proposed takeover of Cadbury mean for workers?

Kraft has shut down factories leading to thousands of layoffs in recent years while the CEO saw a 50% increase in total compensation in the last year.  Recently, Cadbury has been under fire in England for closing a factory in Keynsham which has drawn the ire of trade unions.  Kraft has stated that it wants to re-open the factory, but it's unclear how Kraft plans to cut production costs while re-opening the plant and keeping unionized jobs in England.  According to this article in the Guardian, workers have reason to be ske


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