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Train Wreck for Corporate Monitoring

December, 18 2006 Share

Train Wreck for Corporate Monitoring
At the Harvest Rich Factory in Bangladesh

How could so many companies, for so many years, get everything so wrong?

December 2006

Main Harvest Rich report page

J.C. Penney receives National Labor Committee's highly coveted Bambi in the Headlights Award for their extraordinary gullibility, energetic incompetence and spectacular willful ignorance—all guaranteeing that J.C. Penney's monitoring efforts will continue to fail miserably.

 

Chaos is spreading at the Harvest Rich factory as Hanes and Marks & Spencer both uncover extreme human and labor rights violations and immediately pull their work from the factory.  Puma, which was aware of the violations for years and did nothing, will also soon pull its production from Harvest Rich.

At the opposite end is J.C. Penney—which must feel like Bambi in the headlights—as it continues to send letters to concerned customers across the country claiming not only that its monitors have been able to find no violations, but also that Harvest Rich is near to being a perfect factory.

Even Wal-Mart has now had to concede that there are serious wage and hour violations at Harvest Rich—but being the silent type, does not want to publicly discuss human rights issues, and continues a steady stream of production in the factory.

In between is the giant British retailer Tesco--which loves to talk about their commitment to a living wage and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights—which is now also grudgingly admitting that there are serious violations at Harvest Rich.  However, playing the role of cheerleader, they believe that with a little training and capacity building, Harvest Rich management will see the light.

Corporate monitoring groups like the U.S. apparel industry's Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production (WRAP), the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) are also now scrambling to explain their spectacular ineffectiveness and total failure over the years to find any of the gross violations.  However, they will do better next time, they say.

The odd thing is that despite all their best combined monitoring efforts over the years, some of the largest multinationals in the world—Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer;  Hanes, the most recognized label in the U.S.; and Tesco, Britain's most dominant retailer by far—were unable to discover any violations at the Harvest Rich factory until, in October 2006, the National Labor Committee and Independent Television News Channel 4 in Britain released separate reports documenting the exploitation of child labor, an estimated 200 to 300 child workers, some of them as young as 11, working at the Harvest Rich plant.  The NLC report also documented routine, mandatory 12-to-14-hour shifts, often seven days a week, including some grueling 19-to-20-hour all-night shifts before clothing shipments had to go out.  All overtime was obligatory, but the workers were systematically cheated of the legal overtime wages due them.  The child workers especially reported that beatings were common, and that they were often cursed at, slapped and shoved for making mistakes or falling behind their production goals.  Helpers were paid as little as six cents an hour, while sewing operators earned as little as 11 cents.  The bathrooms were filthy, lacking toilet paper, soap or towels.  Maternity leave was denied.  Workers had no rights, least of all to organize, and anyone even suspected of harboring such a thought would be beaten and kicked out of the factory.  Fake time cards and other doctored documents were prepared to fool the gullible corporate monitors.  The reality was that every labor law in Bangladesh—as well as internationally recognized worker rights standards—was being violated in broad daylight.  Yet the corporate monitors were helpless.

Even after the release of the NLC report and the Channel 4 program, the multinational corporations still could not find the children or the violations, despite having dispatched hords of monitors to Bangladesh.

Tesco, for example, which had apparently all along been relying solely on announced audits carried out during daylight hours, could find no violations before or after.  It is interesting to note that no worker at Harvest Rich had ever heard of Tesco's corporate code of conduct, or of the Ethical Trading Initiative, which was supposed to help guarantee that the legal rights of the workers were respected.  Still unable to find any violations, Tesco had a law firm contact us, which we understood to be a warning and mild threat.

Thing changed dramatically when the NLC called for a meeting in D haka on November 6 and invited the companies.  If the companies could not find the child workers and the violations, we would bring the children to them.

When Harvest Rich management learned of the meeting, all hell broke loose.  Every child worker who had appeared in the NLC or Channel 4 reports was seriously threatened, along with their parents, not to attend the meeting and never again to speak about factory conditions with outsiders.  The children were instructed to lie about their ages.   Overnight 13-year-old children were turned into 18 and 19-year-olds.  One parent told us that the threats were such that he feared for his family's lives.  Local labor rights leaders from the Bangladesh Center for Workers' Solidarity (BCWS) were also forcibly detained late Sunday night by Harvest Rich's general manager, Raton Roy as they were attempting to visit workers' homes to organize for the planned meeting with the companies the following afternoon.  The labor leaders were detained for two-and-a-half hours and told they would be "hung with the help of the BGMEA"—the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.  It was a frightening experience.

It was a miracle that any meeting took place at all, given the mass firings and reign of terror that Harvest Rich management had unleashed.  But on Monday, November 6, thirteen brave Harvest Rich workers showed up, including a 13-year-old girl who had been fired along with at least 100 other child workers on October 19.  The children were explicitly told that they could no longer work at the factory because they were under-age.  With corporate representatives sitting across the table from them, worker after worker confirmed the serious violations, excessive overtime, all-night shifts, the frequent beatings, being cheated of overtime wages, that before the firings child labor was widespread at the factory, and that even now children still worked there.  At one point, several workers urged—challenged really—the corporate representatives to visit the Harvest Rich factory, explaining that if they went after midnight, they would still see some lines continuing to work late into the night.

One company—Hanes—did listen to the workers and paid a rare unannounced visit that night to the Harvest Rich factory, where they quickly found dozens of workers still sewing Wal-Mart's boys' Faded Glory jeans at 12:30 a.m.  Having started at 8:00 a.m., these workers were 16 ½ hours in to a mandatory all-night, 19-to-20-hour shift that would have ended at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. had the workers not been sent home by Hanes auditors.  Typically after finishing such a shift, the workers would sleep on the factory floor for two or three hours before having to begin their next shift at 8:00 a.m. that same morning.

A Hanes spokesperson later told the media that this late night visit was their "first clue" of the serious violations at the factory.  "We had audits that did not catch some of the excessive working hours, did not catch some of the double books," said the Hanes representative, continuing, "Our first clue to the double books issue was making a midnight visit to the plant and finding about 50 employees who were still working." (Women's Wear Daily, December 7, 2006).  To their credit, Hanes then carried out the most serious and thorough corporate audit to date at the Harvest Rich factory.  Their findings were clear.  Hanes found that "Harvest Rich management intentionally concealed workplace practices," including "deliberately keeping inaccurate records to conceal excessive working hours for employees and delayed overtime payments to employees." (That is a corporate euphemism meaning workers were cheated of the legal overtime wages due them.)  Harvest Rich management had schemed to undermine Hanes monitoring through, "intentional deception during past audit proceedings."  A Hanes representative also informed the NLC that they had uncovered health and safety violations and unpaid benefits and had "serious issues"  regarding the attitude and behavior of Harvest Rich's general manager, Ratan Roy.  (This is another euphemism referring to Mr. Roy's abusive treatment of the workers, including beatings and threats.)

The violations were so extreme that Hanes pulled their work from the Harvest Rich factory in mid-stream.  It was during the November investigation that "the gravity of the violations began to surface." Chris Fox, vice president of corporate responsibility for Hanesbrands, told the press:  "It was the totality of the pay and overtime violations, health and safety violations and our concerns about management's willingness and ability to fix the problems, which led us to pull our business." (Winston-Salem Journal, Wednesday, December 6, 2006)

Hanes took one step further, acknowledging that their prior corporate monitoring efforts at the Harvest Rich factory were overly naive and as a result a terrible failure.  Hanes released a statement saying, "The company also is working with WRAP and other auditing agencies to further enhance auditing practices..." It was not only Hanes, it was the U.S. apparel industry's Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production (WRAP) monitoring agency which also failed miserably.  ("Hanesbrands Inc. Investigation of Harvest Rich Operations," December 5, 2006)

Marks & Spencer, the prestigious British label, though it did not release a public statement, must have uncovered widespread and extreme violations at Harvest Rich, as they also in mid-stream, pulled production from the factory.  Marks & Spencer ordered Harvest Rich management that, "all M&S labels have to be removed from the Harvest factory and taken to our Dhaka office with immediate effect.  All labels stitched into garments have to be removed and taken to our office with immediate effect...The local M&S office have to inspect the labels in our office as proof of this action."

PUMA, which has sourced production at Harvest Rich since 2002, has reportedly failed Harvest Rich over the years on several audits.  Questions were also raised by PUMA and other companies regarding a dormitory located inside the walled and guarded Harvest Rich compounded, which was used solely to house pretty young women workers.  Currently about 38 teenaged girls and young women reside in the dorm free of charge.  They do not have to pay for rent or utilities.  Their only expense is 500 taka ($7.15) a month for company food—23 cents a day.  Some of the companies feared that the odd arrangements at this dorm gave it the appearance of being a sort of potential brothel for Harvest Rich management.  Whatever PUMA's auditors found, they must not have insisted very strenuously for improvements at the factory, since nothing ever changed.  Here too, it was not just PUMA that failed, since the Fair Labor Association (FLA) also conducted audits of Harvest Rich for PUMA.

It is only now, following the reports released by the NLC and UK ITN Channel 4, that PUMA is expressing strong concerns and frustration regarding the continued serious violations at Harvest Rich and will, in the immediate future, follow Hanes and Marks & Spencer, in pulling their work from the factory.

In 2001, H&M representatives discovered three children 13 years of age or younger sewing their clothing at the Harvest Rich factory. Immediate steps were taken to provide the children with stipends so they could return to school. However, after years of trying to work together with Harvest Rich management to improve conditions, H&M reluctantly pulled its work from the factory early in 2005 citing lack of adequate progress or good faith on the part of management.

It is important to clarify that the NLC believes in almost all cases that pulling production from a factory—cutting and running—is the worst thing a company could do.  It only further punishes the workers who have already suffered enough abuse.  However, in the case of Harvest Rich, when several companies—Hanes, Marks & Spencer, PUMA and H & M before them—have all lost confidence in the willingness, ability and good faith of management to improve factory conditions, to their credit they have taken the next best step.  Hanes, Marks & Spencer, Puma and H&M have all committed to keeping their work in Bangladesh, and are shifting their production from Harvest Rich to better factories.  So there will be no net loss of jobs in Bangladesh, which is very good news, as the workers in Bangladesh desperately need these jobs.  (For example, besides Harvest Rich, Hanes sources production at 19 other Bangladeshi garment factories.  Overall, Bangladesh's apparel exports to the U.S. are up 19.5 percent this October as compared with a year earlier.)

J.C. Penney is now out there wandering alone, still sending letters to high school students, college professors, consumers, religious and labor leaders across the country explaining that no matter how hard their monitors try, they can find no violations at the Harvest Rich factory, which in J.C. Penney's opinion is near-perfect.  Here is what J.C. Penney's executive vice president, Peter McGrath wrote to students at Dwight-Englewood High School in New Jersey:

"Let me assure you that at J.C. Penney, we work diligently to ensure that the merchandise we buy for our customers is produced in factories in which legal requirements and worker rights are respected.  J.C. Penney has a longstanding commitment to legal compliance and ethical business practices.  We actually work with our suppliers to ensure full legal compliance and fair and human treatment of all factory workers.

"...In response to recent allegations regarding the Harvest Rich factory, J.C. Penney sent a team of experienced factory inspectors, including our regional director, to investigate the matter.  After a thorough investigation, including several days of surveillance, worker interviews, review of payroll records and unannounced inspections at the factory, we have found no evidence of illegal child labor or worker abuse in connection with the manufacture of our merchandise...additionally, the worker interviews and review of payroll records did not review wage and overtime violations or worker abuse."

It would be very interesting to know exactly who J.C. Penney's auditors are exactly what they do in their audits, for something is seriously wrong here.  This is why the NLC is presenting this year's "Bambi in the Headlights Award to J.C. Penney, for their extraordinary naiveté and outstanding willingness to be led by the nose through a total snow job by Harvest Rich management.  Has J.C. Penney ever heard of double sets of books or other phony record keeping?  And how does J.C. Penney do a truly unannounced audit at a time when scores of corporate monitors from the U.S. and Europe are swarming all over the Harvest Rich factory following the release of reports by the NLC and ITN Channel 4 in the UK?  Did J.C. Penney monitors even interview a single Harvest Rich worker in a safe location, with guarantees that there would be no retaliation for their speaking the truth?  Were credible independent local women's or worker rights organizations whom the workers trust and respect present for these interviews?

Even Wal-Mart has now had to concede that there are serious wage and hour violations at the Harvest Rich factory.  However—being the silent type and not anxious to speak about human and worker rights issues—Wal-Mart is not saying much publicly, though they are continuing to pour work into the factory.  On December 4, Harvest Rich's managing director, M.S. Bari, met with Wal-Mart buyers in Hong Kong.  Recently Wal-Mart placed a very large order for it's White Stag label at the Common Threads Limited factory, which is part of the Harvest Rich group.

Tesco is by far Britain's largest retailer, accounting for one out of every seven dollars spent on retail in the country.  Tesco is also spectacularly profitable, with 1.1 billion pounds ($2.15 billion U.S.) profit in just the last six months.

Tesco's website is also very interesting.  Reviewing the company's site, one might imagine that Tesco is a sort of religious organization, like the Jesuits perhaps, whose core mission is to help develop poor countries.  Tesco likes to talk about the need for living wage standards and their absolute commitment to the United Nations University Declaration of Human Rights.

The "Human Rights Policy" section of Tesco's website reads:  "Tesco is committed to upholding basic human rights and supports in full the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labor Organization Core Conventions."

In its "Ethical Trading Policy," Tesco commits to the following:

"Living wages are paid.

Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected.

Working hours are not excessive.

No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed.

Overtime shall be voluntary..."

Tesco also promotes itself as a founding member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), which in turn describes itself as being "an alliance of companies, trade union organizations and non-governmental organizations committed to working together to identify and promote good practice in the implementation of codes of labor practice, including the monitoring and verification of the observance of code provisions."

The Ethical Trading Initiative's corporate code of conduct includes the following:

"...wages shall always be enough to meet basic needs and to provide some discretionary income...

"Workers, without distinction, have the right to join or form trade unions of their own choosing and to bargain collectively...

"Workers shall not on a regular basis be required to work in excess of 48 hours per week and shall be provided with at least one day off for every 7 day period on average.  Overtime shall be voluntary, shall not exceed 12 hours per week, shall not be demanded on a regular basis and shall always be compensated at a premium rate...

"Physical abuse or discipline, the threat of physical abuse, sexual or other harassment and verbal abuse or other forms of intimidation shall be prohibited."

--Sources: www.ethicaltrade.org and www.tescocorporation.com


Unfortunately, there are words and then there is reality, and often the two are quite far apart.  Tesco talks about its corporate code of conduct and how it is monitored by the Ethical Trading Initiative, but as has already been pointed out, it is odd that no worker at the Harvest Rich factory has ever heard of, let alone seen, the Tesco code and it is the same with ETI.  The fact is that young helpers working on Tesco garments earn as little as six cents an hour, while sewers can earn just 11 cents, which does not come even remotely close to meeting any living wage standard.  In fact, these wages trap the workers in utter misery.  It is the same with the routine beatings;  the mandatory and excessive overtime, often seven days a week;  the systematic under payment of the legal overtime wage due the workers;  the filthy bathrooms, and so on.  Any idea that Harvest Rich workers have the right to organize is ridiculous.  Any worker even suspected or organizing would immediately be attacked, beaten, fired and thrown out of the factory without the back wages due them.  This is an obvious fact, and everyone knows it.

(Note: Tesco and the Ethical Trading Initiative define a "living wage" in Bangladesh as just 20 ½ cents an hour, and $9.90 a week, which falls far short of figures the workers themselves say they would need to climb out of misery and at least into poverty. Moreover, many if not the majority of workers sewing Tesco's garments at the Harvest Rich factory earn wages well below 20 ½ cents an hour.)

Only recently, after Harvest Rich became the focus of independent reports by British television news and the NLC, is Tesco now grudgingly admitting that they too finally found serious wage and hour violations at their contractor's plant.  However, according to Tesco, all Harvest Rich management needs is a little training and capacity-building to put these violations behind them.  Tesco has instructed Harvest Rich management to pay $3,000 to another British monitoring group called Impactt, which will oversee the trainings and capacity building.  This response seems quite puny to us, given the severity of the violations at the Harvest Rich factory, which have gone on for years.  If anyone wants to contact Impactt to find out more about these trainings and capacity building, their contact information is: 

Rosey Hurst, Director
Impactt
Phone:  +44 (0) 207 242 6777
Email: info@impacttlimited.com

It is important that any such capacity building be transparent and not cloaked in security.

Tesco, which appears to be playing the role of cheerleaders for Harvest Rich, invited the factory's managing director, Mr. M.A. Bari, to Hong Kong on December 4, for a meeting with buyers for men's departments.  (The following day, M.A. Bari left for Bangkok to meet with buyers from Puma.)

While it is true that to date no company has admitted that child workers were illegally employed, and abused, at the Harvest Rich factory, we believe it is only a matter of time before they reverse themselves on this, just as they first denied and then confirmed the systematic and serious violation of worker rights at the factory.  We know that Harvest Rich managing director M.A. Bari set out to convince Tesco and the other companies that this was all a misunderstanding—that what some people thought were child workers are actually malnourished adults..  According to a set of talking points Mr. Bari took with him to London, the confusion can be explained as follows:  "The Bangladeshi garment workers generally come from rural areas and represent the poorer sectors of society, where people are generally malnourished and age cannot be specified by eye examination." Overnight, as we will explain in a separate section, 13-year-old workers were turned into malnourished 18 and 19-year-olds.  Of course, the child workers, and their parents, first had to be seriously threatened to go along with this, and forced to lie about their ages.  Next, Harvest Rich management needed to quickly procure some official-looking age certification documents showing that the 13-year-olds were now 18 and 19 years of age.  Unfortunately, Bangladesh is among the most corrupt countries in the world, and so many things are possible there.

However, in some cases, to stick with the script Harvest Rich as had to be very creative.  For example, a very small boy who could not have been more than 10 years old, was filmed with a hidden camera by ITN Channel 4 in the packing department at the Harvest Rich factory.  As it was impossible to pass this child off as a malnourished adult, Harvest Rich management said the child did not work there, but rather was a neighborhood kid delivering food to a relative.   Tesco and some other companies are apparently buying this.  The odd thing is that the 10-year-old boy appears to have a needle and thread in his hand. Moreover, as every company knows, Harvest Rich is a walled compound with locked metal gates and armed security guards.  No one can enter the factory without his or her company ID card.  As a simple experiment, Tesco and Wal-Mart should send another 10-year-old up to the gate to see if the guards let him in too.

Some for-profit monitoring groups apparently spend a lot of time regularly monitoring human and worker rights advocacy organizations. This seems to be the case with the Cal-Safety Compliance Corporation (CSCC), which after monitoring the NLC's website in early October 2006, immediately alerted apparel companies and retailers that the NLC would soon release an updated, in-depth report on the Harvest Rich factory in Bangladesh. Cal-Safety's e-mails flew fast and furious, both within the U.S. and internationally. One compliance officer at a huge retailer told us he received four such e-mails in a single day. Cal-Safety was trying to ingratiate itself with the companies, hoping they would hire the firm to produce a counter report on Harvest Rich to protect them. What Cal-Safety failed to tell its prospective clients is that it too has a history of violating the legal rights of its own young and underpaid monitors.

Cal-Safety actually had a lot in common with the way Harvest Rich managed its operation. For example, sections of Cal-Safety's "Employees' Personnel Manual" were intentionally written in such a way as to deceive its employees so management could then cheat the workers of wages legally due them.

This is how Cal-Safety cheated its own monitors:  On page 16 of the "Employees' Personnel Manual" under the section dealing with "travel away from home community," it reads:

"Travel that keeps an employee away from home"is hours worked and compensable when the travel away from home is during the employee's normally scheduled workday, since the employee is substituting travel for regular duties. However, all time spent in travel away from home which is outside the employee's normally scheduled hours of work is not considered hours worked and is not compensable."

In a plot to mislead and then underpay its employees, Cal-Safety executives encouraged its young monitors—who were traveling not only across the U.S. but especially internationally—to travel during weekend hours. Cal-Safety executives were betting on the suppositions that its employees would not know the law—that in the state of California normal working hours are legally defined as from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., seven days a week—and instead assume that normal working hours pertained only to Monday through Friday.

In a hilarious—and also quite condescending and nasty— e-mail exchange, Bill Bernstrom, Cal-Safety's executive director and former U.S. Labor Department official, writes to Carol Pender, Cal-Safety President, who came out of Guess Jeans, and other executives:

Subject: Fw: travel time law

You guys might wanna see what you're going to do about this.

I always knew wages had to be paid for travel on Sat & Sun. I just wrote our travel policy phrasing things as: "normal business hours" and assuming (1) no one would ever read the law {I mean, whoever does?} and (2) it would generally be assumed staff would not associate "normal business hours" with Sat and Sun.

Now it appears someone has read the law and has asked for opinion. If someone makes an issue out of this, it could be a lot in unpaid OT. Better start implementing right away that all flights leave after 5:00 PM.

Even after they were caught red-handed like this, Cal-Safety continued cheating its social compliance monitors by then instructing that all flights should depart only after 5:00 p.m.—or after legal normal working hours—so Cal-Safety would not have to pay these travel hours.

How's that for a monitoring organization!

Rather than face a very embarrassing court battle and guaranteed negative press, Cal-Safety settled out of court with its monitors who actually had the gall to look up California's labor laws and ask that Cal-Safety respect them.

Voluntary corporate codes of conduct and private monitoring schemes do not work, and never will, as they were not designed to work. They have another function.

Corporations are incorporated not only to make money, but to make as much of it as they can. They are not in the business—despite what they might claim—of protecting and promoting respect for worker rights.  Corporations often seek out contract factories in very poor developing countries where wages are extremely low; enforcement of labor law is either very weak or nonexistent; and where desperate poverty and high unemployment make it unlikely that local unions will have the resources to help organize successful campaigns against large factories, especially those whose owners are well connected to the government. In many cases such factories enjoy complete impunity, no matter how gross the violations.  This is not a pretty picture and the companies have to find a way to cover over, or soften the reality. Voluntary corporate codes of conduct and private monitoring schemes are meant to soften this harsh reality. It's a little like putting lipstick on a pig.

Even the very best of the truly non-profit monitoring organizations, such as the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) which does not allow corporations on its board and is backed by the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), now confirms that monitoring by itself does not work. In fact, even the best monitoring has failed completely. Inside Higher Education (September 28, 2006) reports that the WRC's director believes that "While the codes adopted by his consortium were supposed to bring factories producing logo clothing into compliance with basic levels of rights, there has been next to no progress in the last five years. Between 2,000 and 3,000 factories outside the United States are involved in producing clothing with college logos, he said, and only about 8 of them are in compliance with the consortium's standards."

Factory conditions are determined by plain old power and the abuse of that power. Factory management most often has it all and the workers have none. Of course, the workers at Harvest Rich have no right to organize, and would be beaten and fired in one second if management even suspected they might be thinking of organizing. Similarly, any worker speaking harshly about factory conditions to a corporate monitor would be fired the minute that monitor walked out the door.  Under conditions like this, monitors end up auditing factories that resemble well-run minimum security prisons where the inmates cannot complain.

When we first interviewed the Harvest Rich workers, they told us that not one person had ever tried to help them before—no one. The workers were alone and isolated and could easily be bullied by Harvest Rich management.

Even if some wild eyed corporate monitor decided to carry out a popular outreach and education program with the workers regarding their legal rights, and said that she or he would accompany the workers in their struggle to win their just rights, some higher up executive from the same company would simply pull their work from the factory and move on.

Corporations would never allow their trademarks and products to be protected by voluntary codes of conduct and private monitoring schemes alone. Far from it. Corporations have demanded and won all sorts of enforceable laws—intellectual property and copyright laws—backed up by sanctions to defend their corporate trademarks, logos, labels and products.

However, when we say to the companies that we want to extend the same legal protections currently afforded to corporate trademarks and products to the 16 year old girl in Bangladesh who sewed the garment, the companies object, saying this would be an "impediment to free trade." So the label is protected but not the human being. This is both ridiculous and immoral.

Voluntary codes of conduct and private monitoring schemes are leading us down the dead end path of the privatization of respect for human rights.

The only way to end sweatshop abuses and to create a level playing field to defend worker rights is to hold corporations legally accountable to respect the core United Nations International Labor Organization's internationally recognized worker rights standards.

Senator Byron Dorgan and Representative Sherrod Brown are doing just that and have introduced the Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act, which now has over 65 sponsors in the House and Senate. Their bill will prohibit the import, sale or export of sweatshop goods in the United States. (Click here to read more about the legislation.)

This is the first time a proactive positive alternative has been presented to the current race to the bottom in the global sweatshop economy.