Hot Topics in Worker Rights
There.s no place where globalization and fair labor issues are more visible than in retail. U.S. corporations are increasingly going far a field to manufacture their products. Adding to the concerns about the overseas workers who make the products sold in the United States are concerns for the U.S. workers who sell them. What should our expectations be of retailers when it comes to being a good global citizen, local employer, and neighbor?
In 1996, President Clinton brought together a diverse group of industry, labor, human rights, and consumer leaders to the White House to discuss concerns about apparel industry conditions worldwide. The National Consumers League was part of that group, along with the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, UNITE, Liz Claiborne, NIKE, and several others. Clinton charged the group with the task of working together to come up with a way to assure consumers that they were not buying clothing or footwear made in sweatshops.
Two decades ago, in 1987, a Congressional investigation of the magazine sales industry uncovered a track record of abuse, fraud, and indentured servitude involving its often teenage or young adult salespersons. Nothing came of it.