Blog: April 2010

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching- win chocolates and support flower workers!

By Vanessa León, Intern, International Labor Rights Forum

Harassment: sometimes sexual, other times verbal, often times both.
Attempts to organize unions result in termination of employment.
Pregnancy tests or proof of sterilization as a condition for hiring.
Pesticides and fungicides causing respiratory and eye problems, skin rashes and miscarriages.
Years of faithful, grueling work only to be denied basic worker's rights. Basic human rights.

Leaders Work to Counter Harsh Realities of Meat Packing

By: Garat Ibrahim

The following is a post from the Imagine 2050 a
group of activists, immigrants, artists and students who are invested
in a future nation that embraces multiculturalism and tole

It is very difficult to have a good understanding of the hands that feed us every day and the harsh reality that workers undergo daily in the meat packing industry. These are some of the hardest jobs in the food industry and most dangerous in any industry. So it falls to the newest immigrants, refugees and people of color in general to fill these jobs and bear the burden of their risks.

DC Labor Community Take Over Procurement Reform Hearing; Make Case for Responsible Contracting and a Sweatfree DC

As we have explained in the past, government procurement can have major effects on workers here in the district and abroad.  Using government procurement we can either perpetuate abusive practices by paying immoral and criminal companies millions of dollars for their services or we can protect DC employees and workers abroad by supporting companies that treat their workers fairly or who source their products, such as apparel and footwear, from Sweatfree factories.  By refusing to buy apparel and footwear made in sweatshops, the district is also helping to create a market for sweatfree goods which will make treating workers fairly a profitable business model.  To learn more about government procurement and Sweatshops and the campaigns working to end their connection check out

Different Anti-sweatshop Strategy Wins Breakthrough

Says Scott Nova, WRC director: “It is a pilot project, not a comprehensive solution, to the challenges we face, but it is an exciting step forward.”

The project puts into practice key elements of the WRC’s innovative Designated Suppliers Program (DSP). Its aim is to enhance the enforcement of university codes of conduct, which as stand-alone documents have proven pretty much useless without the institutional and incentive framework to make them effective.

April 2010 “Sweatshop Workers Speak Out” Speaking Tour

There will also be a broader focus on public procurement which is the purchasing of goods by a government to be used in the public sector. This can include everything from fire fighter uniforms to school lunches. Governments in the US, whether it is a local, state or federal branch, can be some of the largest purchasers of manufactured goods. They need to buy uniforms and equipment for their offices, employees and schools. These purchases are usually very large and therefore the purchases are an opportunity to encourage the use of strong labor standards as a prerequisite for any business that wants to sell products to the government.

A Killing Field in the Philippines

The area now known as Subic Freeport Zone, within the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), remains much as it was before its conversion from a US naval base– a playground for the fluctuating-depending-on-the-number-of-troops-in-town population of 3,000 who get to enjoy duty-free department stores, mega strip clubs, and American-style burger shacks and schools, all just a Japanese-sponsored superhighway from Manila. Nothing much has changed either for its 200,000 neighbors in the adjacent city of Olongapo. Hidden behind an unusually militarized gated entrance, Olongapo might go unnoticed by its Subic neighbors if not for its crucial supply of prostituted women and exploitable labor, many of the latter who work at Hanjin.

Food Processing Companies Need to Treat Workers Like Humans, Not Machines

Over the last few years I have been able to help workers receive a little justice for their injuries. The sad part of this is that not only do they get hurt, but some workers are fired not long after sustaining an injury. There was a time or two I attempted get workers their jobs back, but had no success.

I began to understand that the workers in this industry were merely seen as production tools by these companies. It’s not taken into account that they are humans who are working at high speed, doing the same repetitious work over and over again for eight to ten hours a day. The workers describe this as, “humans competing against machines.”

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