So what have you done today to promote Fair Trade?
Here’s something you can do without leaving your keyboard. Contact CafePress.com and ask them to provide product information so that people who want to buy t-shirts that aren’t made in sweat shops can figure out what to buy.
Why is this important? Last year the National Labor Committee reported that companies like Walmart and Hanes use child labor to manufacture their oh so cheap products. Some CafePress products come from Hanes. Here is what work conditions were like for those children:
The children report being routinely slapped and beaten, sometimes falling down from exhaustion, forced to work 12 to 14 hours a day, even some all-night, 19- to 20-hour shifts, often seven days a week, for wages as low as 6 and a half cents an hour. The wages are so wretchedly low that many of the child workers get up at 5 a.m. each morning to brush their teeth using just their finger and ashes from the fire, since they cannot afford a toothbrush or toothpaste.
The workers say that if they could earn just 36 cents an hour, they could climb out of misery and into poverty, where they could live with a modicum of decency.
In the month of September, the children had just one day off, and before clothing shipments had to leave for the U.S., the workers were often kept at the factory 95 to 110 hours a week. After being forced to work a grueling all-night 19- to 20-hour shift, from 8 a.m. to 3 or 4 a.m. the following day, the children sleep on the factory floor for two or three hours before being woken to start their next shift at 8 a.m. that same morning.
The child workers are beaten for falling behind in their production goal, making mistakes or taking too long in the bathroom (which is filthy, lacking even toilet paper, soap or towels).
Thursday, Jim over at Irregular Times wrote a piece about CafePress replacing one of its ethically produced shirts manufactured by American Apparel, which is well-known for ethical labor practices, with a shirt of unknown source. He suggested people Email CafePress with their concerns, sending the email either to:
a) Cindy Clarke, Director of Merchandise for CafePress, at email@example.com.
b) firstname.lastname@example.org — the special e-mail account which CafePress has specifically created to take further questions about new merchandise
Today Jim reports that he has received a communication from Ms. Clarke saying she has received “several requests like yours for specific and detailed information about our vendors”. Cafepress needs to hear from more people.
Whether you are a seller or a buyer, please take a few minutes to send a note to CafePress asking them to provide sourcing information about their vendors.
Here is my letter:
I am concerned about your recent announcement to substitute an unspecified brand of “junior jersey tee” for the “baby doll” tee manufactured by American Apparel, a company well known for ethical labor practices.
I advertise all the T-shirts I offer as ethically produced or sweatshop free. If I can’t identify the sourcing of the item, that means I can’t offer it for sale.
That also means I can’t use CafePress for my most popular item, a black tee, since CafePress does not offer a union or fair trade version of the black tee.
There seems to be no place on the CafePress website that gives product information, particularly about t-shirts. The information I have about your product sources comes from other websites and blogs–hopefully they are portraying CafePress goods and services accurately.
Last year the fair trade coffee industry grew by 75%. There is no reason the fair trade T-shirt market can’t grow as well.
I hope Cafepress can make it easier to identify your product sources for those of us who wish to offer union and fair trade products for our buyers.
The Camel’s Nose
Is CafePress.com hiding sweatshops?
CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern