Hot Topics in Worker Rights
In September 2009, United States Department of Labor issued a long-awaited report identifying more than 100 goods produced by child or forced labor in more than 50 countries around the world. Advocates applauded the release, seeing it as a tool for consumers who want to purchase products that are free from forced and child labor.
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.