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Some 2015 March 23 articles from Green American Magazine Spring 2015 issue
Investors for Bangladeshi Worker Rights
In the aftermath of neglect of fire and safety hazards that caused a fire that killed 112 people and the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed over 1000 people and injured 2500, "investors are pressuring companies to commit to improving conditions for garment workers by signing on to the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety (bangladeshaccord.org).
Cinese toy factories
"Hundreds of thousands of young Chinese migrant workers toil away in factories making toys for major international brands. A recent report by China Labor Watch (CLW) exposed dozens of violations in four factories that make toys for Mattel, Fischer-Price, Disney, Crayola, and others." Article links to alternative green toys and petition to Mattel.
More articles available Green America members
The subject of reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels is not as simple as divesting from all fossil fuels, because fossil fuel companies can help in the effort. Encouraging them to do so may in some cases be as effective as divesting. Stay tuned for more from the May conference.
2015 March 17: Correction of AP March 13-14 Blue Bell-Listeriosis story
"5 sickened by ice cream-related illness at Wichita, Kansas, hospital; 3 die" from listeria bacteria. "The deaths...linked to some Blue Bell ice cream products have prompted the Texas icon's first product recall in its 108-year history."
2015 March 16: Activists challenge the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) to improve its monitoring and use of chemicals that they have linked to cancer and respiratory illness in workers, according to the website GoodElectronics. Industry representatives say their audits have not found such links.GoodElectronics compares 20 brands on environmental and labor rights issues.
"WA scientists have helped re-affirm that curcumin, a chemical compound found in turmeric, is a safe and promising treatment for most cancers and other inflammation-driven diseases."
2015 March 11: Antibiotics used to fight infection in humans but to promote rapid growth and fattening in animals raised for food endanger humans, including vegans.
Article in eater.com explains it is not the antibiotics themselves, but the unintended side-effect of introducing new antibiotic-resistant bacteria into the environment that present the danger. "Antibiotic resistance is a global crisis, responsible for 700,000 deaths per year worldwide."Many major purveyors of chicken, such as McDonald's and Costco, have decided to phase out serving chicken--but not beef, pork, or dairy--raised with human antibiotics in American restaurants. Such use has been banned in many European countries, but so far is only a policy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where participation is voluntary.
2015 March 1: from Working In These Times, Jury Awards Guestworkers Over $14 Million in Landmark Human Trafficking, Forced Labor Case. The suit, brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was " the first of a series of lawsuits that together constitute one of the largest human trafficking and forced labor cases in U.S. history."
Signal International, a marine construction company based in Mobile, Alabama, must pay damages to workers from India who were falsely promised permanent visas to work in the U.S. The visas were in reality only for temporary work following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The workers went deeply into debt to obtain the visas. The workers paid over $1000 a month for food and housing in unsanitary, overcrowded, noisy trailers ("man camps").
On a weekend in March 2007, local organizers contacted the Southern Poverty Law Center about the workers' plight. "...In the dawn hours of March 9, Signal seized the men it suspected of organizing, locked them in a trailer under guard, terminated their employment and told them they would be deported."
2015 February 19: from Truthout, Despite Claims of Progress, Labor and Environmental Violations Continue to Plague Apple.
Problems in 2013 that continued in 2014 included "violations of Chinese labor law and Apple's supplier code of conduct". Workers suffered from extreme--and illegal--forced overtime hours, underpayment of wages and benefits, extreme heat, safety hazards such as blocked fire exits, and "no opportunity for collective bargaining and meaningful address of worker concerns".
Contrary to Apple's claim that its suppliers are to blame for poor worker conditions, Apple has punished suppliers that have tried to improve conditions, such as Foxconn with a meager pay raise, by taking away substantial amounts of their business and giving it instead to suppliers such as Pegatron that minimize costs while breaking Chinese labor laws.
"2014 also saw continued problems in the mining operations that feed into Apple products. Apple celebrates its involvement in the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI), run by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), but the EICC is an industry-operated body of only corporate members biased toward its clients." Environmental degredation, numerous mining accidents, and forced evictions are problems which Julian Kirby of London-based Friends of the Earth feels are not adequately addressed by the EICC and CFSI.
"Tmall.com, the B2C Internet shopping subsidiary of Alibaba Group, announced that it will cooperate with Danone and Nestle to launch direct sales and delivery of milk powder under six brands of the two groups, allowing Chinese consumers to enjoy the safe importation of milk powder products."
"Milk powder and milk supplies in China are a touchy subject, and currently it is illegal to bring more than a small amount of milk powder into mainland China via Hong Kong. Chinese consumers are also wary of buying domestic milk powder because of a rash of reports in recent years of tainted milk-based products from companies such as Mengniu and Yili." Other companies alleged to have problem milk products in recent years are Wyeth, Shandong Zibi Lvsan'er Dairy Company, Liaoning Tieling Wuzhou Food Company, Hebei Tangshan Leting County Kaida Cold Storage Plant, and Beingmate.
Fair Trade News: Fair World Project works to protect the strength and integrity of the term fair trade.
Special Report: Chocolate
2013: How to make sure your chocolate purchases do not support child slavery.
Special Report: Torture
There is hope! Please see the post on a January 2012 anti-torture resolution by the city of Chicago, and how other municipalities can do the same. If you do not see it at first, refresh the page by clicking the refresh button on your browser bar or pressing the f5 key.
Special Report: Fair Trade
2013 update summarizes changes in standards and controversy over increasing availability of products with the certification by making it easier to get certified vs. maintaining more rigorous standards. Fair World Project offers suggestions for resolving the conflict by making product labels more transparent about percentage of ingredients that are certified.