Blog: Living Wage

From Slavery to Debt-Bondage: Big Tobacco’s Addiction to Cheap Labor

I was in North Carolina last week, marching through the streets of Winston-Salem with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) to demand collective bargaining rights for farmworkers who harvest tobacco. As these workers shared their stories about unjust conditions in the fields and sub-poverty earnings, I was struck by the similarities between tobacco industry exploitation in my own country and what our partners in Malawi, the Center for Social Concern (CSC) and Tobacco and Allied Workers Union of Malawi (TOAWUM), are fighting against.

The TPP's dirty labor laundry

The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is being touted as a “21st century” trade agreement that will contain strong and enforceable labor standards to ensure our trade partners honor their promise to uphold workers’ fundamental rights.  

But if history is any guide, labor rights advocates should remain deeply skeptical of any such claims.

Legislation introduced in April aims to provide the President with trade promotion authority (aka “fast track”), a procedure that requires Congress to vote on proposed trade deals with limited debate and no opportunity to offer amendments.

$177/Month Demand Builds in Advance of Cambodian Wage Decision

Across Europe, North America, Australia, Asia, and in 19 cities across the U.S. and Canada, demonstrators stood up with Cambodian workers on September 17th to demand a more livable wage.  Cambodian workers and demonstrators throughout the world wore orange t-shirts with the demonstration logo to show solidarity. In Cambodia, workers waged demonstrations at 139 factories, while tens of thousands of workers demonstrated in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. 

Twitter users around the world showed solidarity using the #WeNeed177 hashtag, referring to the workers’ demand of US$177per month. 

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