A BILL TO BAN SWEATSHOP LABOR

The mantra of the global corporate establishment is: "free trade... free trade... free trade..."

The mantra of the global corporate establishment is: “free trade… free trade… free trade…”

Especially insidious is their insistence that “free trade” is the answer to world poverty. This has been the public rationale for every trade scam from NAFTA to CAFTA, including such single-country deals as the 1999 “Jordanian Free Trade Agreement.” To help the impoverished people of Jordan, went the argument, let’s open up the lucrative U.S market to factories making clothes in Jordan. If we let the free market operate there without bothersome rules and regulations, then poor Jordanians will get jobs making clothes that retailers like Wal-Mart can import duty-free to the U.S. and sell to American consumers.

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Sure enough, since 1999, Jordanian exports to America have increased 2,500 percent! But, wait. Jordan’s factory owners, under contract to the Wal-Marts, didn’t hire workers there. Instead, they flew in “guest workers” from even lower-wage countries, such as China and Bangladesh, and their factories became horrific sweatshops. Since “free trade” deals exclude labor protection rules, these workers were paid a pittance, forced to work 20-hour days, frequently beaten, and jailed when they complained.

To stop this corporate scam of writing abusive “free trade” deals that let them bring sweatshop products into our country – it’s time for the U.S. to assert our people’s values in our own marketplace by outlawing the sale of sweatshop goods. Sen. Byron Dorgan, a fighting populist from North Dakota, has introduced a bill to do just that. SB 3485, “The Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act,” is the first bill ever that simply says “no” to sweatshop products in America, and it comes with the necessary incentives and enforcement power to make it stick.

This is Jim Hightower saying… To get behind this bill and to help campaign for fair trade and common decency, call Sen. Dorgan’s office: 202-224-2551.

Sources:
“Watershed Anti-sweatshop Legislation Introduced in the U.S. Congress,” The National Labor Committee, June 2006.
“Dorgan Introduces Bill to Ban Sale of Sweatshop Products,” U.S. Senate News Release, June 8, 2006.
“Watershed Anti-sweatshop Legislation Introduced in the U.S. Congress,” www.anitaroddick.com.
“Anti-sweatshop bill in U.S. Senate threatens garment export from Bangladesh,” June 17, 2006.

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