Tim Newman, Campaigns Director, International Labor Rights Forum
By now, many of you have probably already seen the special introduction to last week's episode of The Simpsons that was created by the famous graffiti artist, Banksy. The animated segment depicts a factory where Simpsons animation cells are made under sweatshop conditions. The massive factory contains rows of workers, many of whom are women and a number of whom are injured, as well as a child worker who comes into direct contact with toxic chemicals. These are exactly the kinds of rights violations that the International Labor Rights Forum is fighting every day. Check out this video for the full introduction:
While certain elements were exaggerated in order to make an artistic statement, such as the unicorn and panda in the factory, the sad reality is that many of the forms of exploitation highlighted in the clip are pervasive in the global economy.
Fortunately, when workers and their supporters join together to fight abuse, we know that we can win important improvements for workers. For example, last year, many of you contacted L. L. Bean and J. Crew about Uzbek cotton and within hours, the company had publicly released a statement opposed the abuse in Uzbekistan. Last week, we targeted Abercrombie and Fitch for the Uzbek cotton campaign and the company soon announced it had a policy of not sourcing cotton from Uzbekistan. We are still seeking more information on how Abercrombie institutes it's policies, but these are just a few examples of how collective action can shift corporate behavior.
If you want to stop the abuses highlighted in this video clip, you can sign up for the International Labor Rights Forum's urgent action e-mail list here. It's a great way to stay updated about global worker rights issues and to find out how to take action to support workers. You can also check out www.Free2Work.org to see how some of your favorite products rate on eliminating forced and child labor. And would you want your tax dollars supporting sweatshop conditions? If not, consider starting a SweatFree Communities campaign in your community and support the Jobs Through Procurement Act. Together we can end labor exploitation!