Blog: February 2011

Remembering the 1911 Triangle Fire by Planning an Activity in Your Community

Your event could be as simple as hosting a film screening in your place of worship and inviting members to attend and participate in a conversation about the importance of labor rights in your own community.

Why not bring a flyer into your workplace to put on the communal bulletin board?

Maybe your child’s teacher would be interested in doing a brief unit on the international garment industry, with a field trip to a local department store to see how many countries the clothing is from and which countries and regions of the world are the largest producers.

Wisconsin Workers Deserve Respect for Their International Labor Rights

These attacks on unions and workers’ rights are not being done in the name of the American people. According to a USA Today poll released this afternoon, 61% of the American public opposes limiting collective bargaining rights for unions even as a way to save money for the state budget. In addition, 53% oppose reducing pay or benefits for government workers. All of the anti-labor rhetoric, claiming that destroying worker rights is complying with the demands of the American population, is blatantly false.

Behind the Kitchen Door: A Summit on the D.C. Restaurant Industry

This summit was one of many being held on Valentines Day, which is the most profitable day of the year for restaurants, with similar events being held across the country, from L.A. to Miami, to discuss the findings of these city-specific reports, as well as a nation-wide report. The D.C. event included a great variety and caliber of panelists, including restaurant employers, city officials, labor advocates and scholars, and restaurant workers. ROC-D.C.

Killer Jeans, Sandblasting and Fashion Victims

The deadly effects of silica in the denim industry were first noticed in Turkey, where the sand used contains up to 80% silica, according to the Turkish Solidarity Committee of Sandblasting Labourers. As dust from sandblasting enters the air, the workers are exposed to the silica, which causes a known occupational disease, silicosis. Silicosis is a fatal, incurable lung disease that is irreversible and continues to progress even when exposure to the mineral stops.

A Call for Respect from Wal-mart in the District

The speakers at the rally demanded fair wages and fair treatment from Wal-Mart, which plans to open four locations in D.C in wards 4, 5, 6 and 7. The coalition is working to educate people about the reality of Wal-Mart’s record of paying very low wages, forcing out its competition, causing a net loss of jobs, and breaking its promises. In addition, Wal-Mart has been involved in lawsuits because of its discriminatory policies against women and its engagement in wage theft.

Take action to support cocoa workers this Valentine's Day!

  1. Send an e-mail to Hershey
  2. Post a message like this on Hershey's Facebook page: Have a heart on Valentine’s Day! It’s time to raise the bar by stopping child labor and using Fair Trade Certified cocoa!  
  3. Post a tweet like this on Twitter: @Hersheys: Have a heart on #Valentines Day! Stop #childlabor & start using #fairtrade #chocolate! #VDay (Plz RT!) 

Stand in Solidarity: International Day of the Flower Worker

The majority of Colombian flower workers receive the minimum wage, which covers approximately 45% of the food budget for a family. Workers often rely on overtime pay to compensate for insufficient wages, but Law 789, passed in 2002, defines the working day as 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., establishing that overtime rates are only applicable outside of that time frame. Obligatory and unpaid overtime is common, and workers comply for fear that they will lose their jobs.

The Dank Smell of Roses

Years ago, the disparity between workers’ wagers and company profits was not quite so huge. International competition has pressured companies to demand more and more of each worker, without increasing their wages. Retired agronomist Alberto Caro who once owned a share in a flower farm chose not to succumb. He told Farthing, “I sold because I could see that as international competition grew we would be forced to squeeze our workers harder and harder.”

The Dark Side of Chocolate

In other words, the diamond in my ring might have been placed there by a child, chained to a life of slavery, poverty and illiteracy. I have chosen not to replace my diamond for now.  

To be fair, I don’t wear much jewelry, so this isn’t a big sacrifice. Where it does hit closer to home is with my love of chocolate.

The truth about your Valentine’s candy is probably going to bring more guilt than its calorie count.

Hundreds of thousands of children work in the worst forms of child labor, and many have been sold into slavery to work on the cocoa farms of West Africa. And more than 70 percent of the world’s chocolate starts on these farms.

Protests in Egypt Receive Labor Organizations’ Support

This new union emphasizes the need for unemployment compensation, a higher minimum wage, extended benefits, the right to organize, and for all detainees imprisoned after January 25 to be released immediately. It brings together health sector employees, tax inspectors, manufacturers, public employees, and others. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka praised the workers for their courage and their defiance of the union ban.

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