(en)National Day of Conscience to End Sweatshop Abuses

Lyn and Shawn (linjin@tao.ca)
Mon, 2 Jun 1997 20:06:07 pst

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Date sent: Mon, 2 Jun 1997 19:32:13 -0700 (PDT) To: clr From: Mike Rhodes <clr2@igc.apc.org> Subject: Call Goes Out for Oct. 4th National Day of Conscience to End Sweatshop Abuses

Labor Alerts/Labor News a service of Campaign for Labor Rights Call Goes Out for Oct. 4th National Day of Conscience to End Sweatshop Abuses!!! Summary: A call for a National Day of Conscience to End Sweatshop Abuses has been put out for October 4, 1997, by the National Labor Committee, the People of Faith Network, the United Methodist Church Women's Division and the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE!). The National Day of Conscience would involve public actions by groups of citizens all across the U.S. and internationally on Saturday, October 4, calling for a stronger "Accord to Address Sweatshop Abuses" from the President's Task Force. If the Accord can be significantly strengthened, the Day of Conscience will also initiate a Holiday Season of Conscience in which consumers can reward the companies that have signed on the Accord and punish the companies that have refused. Background: President Clinton has given the Task Force to Address Sweatshop Abuses six months to report back to the White House to elaborate the content of the standards it agreed to in April and to establish concrete structural mechanisms for implementation of the Accord. In the mind of the public, two issues especially demand further attention: independent monitoring and a living wage. The language in the accord must be strengthened to assure that the principle of truly independent monitoring is not co-opted or undermined. "We are in a very strong position to achieve this common sense approach," according to Charles Kernagan of the National Labor Committee in New York. "Even the New York Times editorial board," he said, "is calling upon the Task Force to guarantee real independent monitoring." On the wage issue, the Accord at least opens the door to drive home the fact that legal minimum wages are frequently set below subsistence levels, and that, at the very least, a subsistence wage, tied to the cost of basic necessities is essential to end sweatshop abuses. The groups organizing the National Day of Conscience have declared that the White House Task Force Accord--while far from adequate in its present form--does, nonetheless, represent a very

significant opportunity to involve major public support in the movement to end sweatshops. Sweatshop reform is squarely in the mainstream, carrying the backing of the White House as well as having opened a small fissure in the industry regarding improving corporate accountability for human rights. Action Suggestions: "We do not have to think small," stated the call to action released by the National Labor Committee, "We can think big in terms of national outreach." The organizers call for a "unique and creative day of vigils, leafletting, street theater and music" on October 4. Mobilizing for the Day of Conscience will allow labor rights activists to reach out to an ever-widening network of concerned consumers, while conducting mass popular education on the need for truly independent monitoring and a living wage to be included in any effective accord to end sweatshop abuses. Along with mobilization and educational outreach, organizers hope to obtain a million signatures on a petition which will be sent to the White House and to CEOs in the garment industry. Local groups should take the petition to shopping malls, craft fairs, and picnics this summer and "back to school" in late August and September. If the Accord can be significantly strengthened, consumers across the country will finally have something concrete and direct that they can act on at a national level to end sweatshops. Namely, during the crucial holiday shopping season, they can reward the companies that signed on to the Accord and punish the companies that have refused. Campaign organizers are calling for vigils and demonstrations as well as educational leafletting during the holiday shopping season at targeted retailers who continue to refuse to seriously discuss paying a living wage and open their contractors' factories to inspection by respected, independent local religious and human rights organizations to guarantee respect for human rights. For more information about the National Day of Conscience and the Holiday Season of Conscience or to get a copy of the petition, contact Maggie Poe at the National Labor Committee, 275 7th Ave., New York, NY 10001; Tel: (212) 242-3002; Fax: (212) 242-3821. To receive the Campaign for Labor Rights newsletter, send $35.00 to Campaign for Labor Rights, 1247 "E" Street SE, Washington, DC 20003. To receive a sample copy of the newsletter, send your postal address to clr@igc.apc.org or 541-344-5410. We rely on memberships to help us provide our many services. Please join! Also check out our web site at http://www.compugraph.com/clr If you would like to stop receiving our Labor Alerts, send an email to clr@igc.org with "cancel labor alerts" in the subject line.

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