Campaigns and Information in Support of Global Workers’ Rights

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“Latin American Labor at a Crossroads: Obstacles and Opportunities in Times of Change”

April 13-14, 2023

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Center for Global Workers’ Rights

Dr. Mark Anner Center Director, Center for Global Workers’ Rights

EMAIL: PHONE: +1 814-865-5425 FAX: +1 814-867-4169

Campaigns and Information in Support of Global Workers’ Rights

United Students Against Sweatshops current campaigns

The 2013-14 USAS International Solidarity Campaign urges universities to make an addition to their codes of conduct, requiring all of their licensees producing collegiate items in Bangladesh to sign onto the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

Penn State USAS’s First Op Ed for ‘End Deathtraps’ Campaign in The Daily Collegian, September 26.

AFL-CIO Allies with Student Activist Group as it Rolls Out New Labor StrategyUSAS and AFL alliance
The United Students Against Sweatshops and the AFL-CIO have now formed a formal partnership between the two organizations.

Garment Worker Solidarity: In hard-fought victory, USAS students and workers, acting together with the support of university’s throughout the nation and the world, pressured German sportswear giant Adidas to compensate 2,700 former Indonesian garment workers who produced collegiate apparel at PT Kizone, an Adidas supplier factory. The factory closed down over two years ago. A PT Kizone workers’ press release stated that “the former workers will receive a substantial sum from Adidas” and the settlement will resolve a powerful international campaign over Adidas’s prior refusal to pay $1.8 million in unpaid severance pay.

USAS and the WRC Designated Suppliers Program: USAS is currently partnering with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), conducting campaigns on campuses across the country to take part in its Designated Suppliers Program. The Worker Rights Consortium is an independent monitoring agency which universities may affiliate. Under the Designated Suppliers Program there is an extremely higher likelihood that products bought by universities will actually be made without the exploitation of workers. 

Alta Gracia: USAS is also currently working on Alta Gracia apparel campaigns on many university campuses. Alta Gracia, a factory in the Dominican Republic, is a recent initiative in the collegiate apparel production industry. Once a sweatshop itself, factory employees are now unionized and paid a living-wage. USAS groups working on Alta Gracia campaigns are appealing to their universities to sell Alta Gracia apparel in bookstores and, in fact, include a majority of Alta Gracia products in the apparel section. Alta Gracia products are available in over 450 college and university bookstores throughout the United States.

Campus Worker Justice: USAS chapters across the country are engaged with campaigns to increase just working conditions and union representation for workers on university campuses. The intent is to set a higher standard of working conditions for all workers by starting with the place where students can offer the greatest advocacy, in favor of workers on their own campuses.

Kick Wall Street Off Campus: USAS chapters working on Kick Wall Street Off Campus campaigns are currently asking universities to stop dealing with banks that contribute to prolonging the economic crisis and hurting workers and their families struggling to pay their bills and mortgage payments.

No Sweatshop Pizza on Campus: This is a campaign in which students are supporting the Palermo Workers Union in their fight to win a union at Palermo Villa Inc. that produces frozen pizza sold at several universities and stores such as Costco. The company has taken part in an extreme anti-union campaign as workers seek better working conditions.

HEI Hotel Worker Solidarity: This involves students asking their universities to divest from the hotel company that has persisted in its use of severe anti-union campaigns against its workers.

USAS and workers at Walmart: USAS is also supporting Walmart workers in their fight to form unions and gain fair working conditions and a living-wage.

United States, Regional Distinctions provides current information on the minimum wage in the United States.

State Laws on Employment-Related Discrimination: The National Conference of State Legislatures provides a table outlining the various protections against employment-related discrimination for each state.

State and Local Statutes and Regulations: The Society of Human Resource Management provides detailed information tables for state laws on many topics.

“Right to Work” for Less: The AFL-CIO provides a summary of consequences of “Right to Work” laws.

Speaking up for North Carolina’s Tobacco Pickers: Oxfam America explains the extremely unsafe conditions of tobacco pickers in North Carolina, such as susceptibility to Green Tobacco Sickness caused by high levels of nicotine entering the body through the skin.

U.S. Far Behind on Workers’ Rights: An article in Forbes magazine explains that the United States falls behind most countries on workers’ rights standards.

Global social justice initiatives

International Museum of Women (IMOW): The IMOW strives to inspire creativity, awareness, and action on important global issues that affect women. This includes workers’ rights for women internationally. One of its initiatives, Extraordinary Voices, Extraordinary Change, supports a speaker series held in San Francisco, with video and audio on line; a series of lectures by women from around the world who have made profound and unprecedented political, social and economic changes in the lives of women worldwide. Past speakers include Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers Union and Iranian women’s human rights advocate Mahnaz Afkhami.

Extraordinary Voices, Extraordinary Change

Other workers’ rights campaigns

Fast Food Forward: Fast Food Forward is an initiative underway in New York City brought by workers who are struggling to pay for basic necessities in the fast food industry—an industry that pays CEOs on average in more in one day more than double what workers make in a year. Fast food workers, at places like McDonalds, Burger King, and Taco Bell, are fighting for a living-wage as hard-working people, arguing they should be able to afford basic expenses in return for their efforts. In reality, however, the wages they endure make it impossible to obtain adequate food, childcare, decent housing, and transportation.

OUR Walmart: OUR Walmart is an initiative of Walmart workers and their allies urging the company to respect its workers and to provide an environment supporting dignity in the workplace. This includes paying the workers a living-wage, offering options for affordable healthcare, and recognizing the right of its workers to freedom of association and freedom of speech.

Fight for 15: Fight for 15 is an organization of Chicago fast food and retail workers that are fighting for a minimum wage of $15 per hour. On Thursday, August 29th 2013 Fight for 15 is holding an International Day of Action.

Slow Food: The Slow Food movement was created as an alternative to fast food which links the pleasure of good food with a commitment to community and environment. In regards to workers’ rights, the Slow Food movement strives to improve the food system both at a local level and internationally, which leaves positive effects for workers in the food industry.

Occupy Monsanto: Occupy Monsanto focuses on combating the company Monsanto in reaction to its use of harmful chemicals and genetically modified organisms in the food system. The movement also focuses on the harmful consequences of Monsanto policies in reference to the work of farmers and negative results on workers in associated industries.

Take Back Your Time: Take Back Your Time is an initiative seeking to challenge the epidemic of overwork.

The California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights: The aim of the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights is to end the exclusion of domestic workers in California from basic labor protections within the state.

Jobs With Justice: Jobs With Justice is an organization seeking to bring together labor unions, student activists, community organizations, and faith-based groups in the fight for justice in the workplace. Their current campaigns include the movement to transform long-term health care in the country, changing the labor practices of Walmart, finding a way to mitigate the detrimental influences of student debt, and protecting workers from exploitation and retaliation in their efforts to organize and stand up for their rights.

Workers rights in Export Processing Zones (EPZ's)

Employment and Social Policy in Respect of Export Processing Zones (EPZs): The ILO gives a lengthy account of the definition of Export Processing Zones, statistics surrounding their evolution since the 1970s, and policies for the operation of EPZs.

Improving Working Conditions in Philippines EPZs: The International Trade Union Confederation describes the Memorandum of Cooperation on the promotion of freedom of association and full implementation of labor laws and standards in the apparel industry, spurred from a meeting with sportswear brands, the Department of Labor and Employment, unions, and labor rights NGOs in the Philippines.

Haiti: Solidarity with Export Processing Zone Workers: The International Trade Union Confederation and affiliated organizations has condemned the dismissal of union leaders of Haitian factories in Export Processing Zones hours after their unions received recognition from the Labour Ministry.

Export Processing Zones or Exploiting People Zones?: Here, the Ethical Consumer website offers information on export processing zones, including the beneficiaries who support them, the cost of investments, suppression of union activity, details on gender and workers, and changing definitions of EPZs. It also offers details consumers should be aware of on problems associated with EPZs.

Global Policy Forum-Export Processing Zones: The Global Policy Forum offers several links to articles encompassing many negative outcomes of EPZs on their website.