Another Goodstorm Horror Story–And still no black tee with a union bug

My readers want black tees with “We will not be silent” printed in Arabic. I want to offer a tee that is not made by sweatshop labor.

Goodstorm had a black union-made tee that came in large sizes, as well as smaller, fashion-fit black tees from American Apparel, a U.S.-based non-union company whose fair labor practices have been documented. But Goodstorm stopped paying its shopkeepers. My own problems with Goodstorm have still not been resolved.

I thought Goodstorm was a problem just for shopkeepers, but now it looks like customers didn’t receive the goods they ordered either. Blogger Zootso set up Goodstorm shop and ordered some stuff from it to see what would happen. The first orders merely arrived late. Subsequent orders did not arrive at all and Zootso was able to get a refund (but not the goods) only after much wrangling.

I am still looking for the internet fulfillment company that will offer that ethically-produced black tee .

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Posted in Fair Trade, T-shirts. Comments Off on Another Goodstorm Horror Story–And still no black tee with a union bug

What is happening to Goodstorm?

A little over a year ago the internet fulfillment company Goodstorm announced it would start selling black t-shirts that were ethically produced in the United States. I was excited by the thought of offering tees that weren’t produced in sweatshops with child labor, so I started a little shop with some Arabic language tees.

Now Goodstorm has stopped paying out shopkeeper royalties. One blogger even reports he has never received a payment and can no longer access his shop in order to close it. He has discontinued working with Goodstorm and no longer recommends it. In fact, he even posts a link to the Better Business Bureau in case someone wants to file an official complaint.

I can still access my shop, but I have closed all the links to it. I have been promised more information about when I might receive a check within a few days. When a company has already received payment for items purchased, but can’t pay the royalty, that does not look good.

Still, people keep asking me for the products, especially the black “lan nesmit” (We will not be silenced) black t-shirt in Arabic.

I will try to work with Goodstorm a little longer.

In the meantime, I will be looking for another source for union or ethically produced black tees.

Posted in Arabic, Fair Trade, Merchandise, Products, T-shirts. Comments Off on What is happening to Goodstorm?

Jordanians Talk about Child Labor

Child labor continues to be a topic of interest in Jordan, probably discussed over tea, if I know my Jordanians. Here is the latest talk from the Jordan Times 8-23-07:

Society holds conference on child labour, education

IRBID (Petra) – The Family and Childhood Protection Society on Saturday organised a conference to discuss the relation between child labour and school dropouts. HRH Princess Sana Asem inaugurated the one-day event, where participants reviewed prospective solutions to address such a phenomenon. The society’s president, Kathem Kfeiri, said child labour is on the rise, noting that a total of 5,000 cases were detected in 1997, but the number had increased to 7,000 despite efforts exerted in this regard. Head of the Women’s Cultural Forum Fayza Zu’bi presented a paper on the significance of providing welfare for children and establishing cooperation between the school and the family. At the end of the conference, Princess Sana presented certificates of appreciation to those who contributed to child-related projects.

I notice three things:

1) Child labor is increasing. We don’t know what industry this is in or if it is across industries, but I have started to notice t-shirts with a “Made in Jordan” label here. Could it be the garment industry? At the same time there is a movement in the west for “fair trade” products.

2) The topic has a royal patron, which in Jordan can really help call attention to an issue. Princess Sana Asem, born 1960, has a B.A. in English literature and translation. She is married to Prince Asem bin Al Nayef, born in 1948, the son of Prince Nayef bin Abdullah I (a younger son of Abdullah I of Jordan) and Princess Mihrimah Sultan (grand-daughter of Sultan Mohammad Rashad of Turkey). One of the prince’s daughters by a previous marriage, Noor, is married to Prince Hamzah bin al Hussein.

3) One of the prospective solutions considered is “establishing cooperation between the school and the family”. Doesn’t that sound a lot like the PTA? I always wondered why Jordan doesn’t have any Parent Teacher Association.

Posted in Fair Trade, Jordan, الأردن. Comments Off on Jordanians Talk about Child Labor

Chicago City Colleges Outsources T-shirts to Foreign Sweatshops

You would think the City Colleges of America’s Second City would not be supporting sweatshop labor, child labor and union busting. But the other day I went to a concert at one of Chicago’s city colleges and as a door prize, I received a t-shirt made in a sweatshop.

Everyone who walked in the door received a t-shirt with the school logo on it. My shirt was a Hanes “Beefty-T” made in the Dominican Republic. I seemed to remember something about Hanes, so when I got home I looked it up.

Hanes has one of the worst, if not the worst human rights records in the industry. Last October the national labor committee reported the re-emergence of child labor in factories making apparel for Hanes and WalMart.

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.

Now a new report from the Worker’s Rights Consortium talks about the same factory in the Dominican Republic that manufactured the t-shirt I got as a door prize. The one with the name of one of Chicago’s city colleges on it.

The Worker’s Rights Consortium has over 150 affiliated colleges and universities that help support its work of investigating overseas factories an d insuring fair labor practices for  workers in factories that produce apparel for college logos. Harvard University is a member.  Duke University is a member.  The University of Illinois at Chicago is a member.

What about Chicago City Colleges?  Surely the City Colleges of Chicago supports fair labor practices.  Do you see any of the Chicago City Colleges on the list?

Nope.

Is your school on the list?

Impeach Bush sign taken down? Try a t-shirt instead.

Is it illegal to post an “Impeach Bush” sign on public property? We’re about to find out.

Ohio teacher Kevin Egler and his friends have been posting anti-war signs all over Ohio and surrounding states. They say the war in Iraq is illegal and immoral. Now Egler has been issued a ticket for posting an Impeach Bush sign in Kent in Portage County. The Kent police said he was “unlawfully advertising in a public place”.

Egler said that when he was stopped in Kent, he asked the police officer how his sign differed from Realtors posting signs on public property saying “This way to the house for sale.” He said the officer asked, “You don’t know the difference?” but never explained what it might be.

Egler’s lawyer says he knows the difference. A real estate sign is a commercial message. Egler’s sign is a political message. Political messages have more legal protections, says the attorney, Bob Fitrakis, who specializes in first amendment law. Fitakis is also editor and publisher of The Free Press website, which so far has not commented on the arrest.

For some time I have been quietly offering a few sweatshop-free “impeach” t-shirts through the Columbus, Ohio-based company Skreened. I haven’t written about them though, because I’m not at all sure impeachment is the best approach. But if someone does believe impeachment is the right approach, they should be able to say so. That part is a no-brainer. So for anyone who wants to exercise their freedom to say Impeach!, here is your shirt.

Shirts are available in a several styles and colors. The slogans are shown on a variety of different tees so you can get an idea of what’s available. Sizes run small–they are “fashionably snug”–so for a looser fit, order up a size. Oh, yes, there is one slightly naughty slogan. If you were offended by the detail of the Monika Lewinsky discussion, you will be offended by this–it’s definately NSFW and not child-friendly. It’s the light green one in the upper right with the navy blue slogan, but too hard to read in thumbnail size. So if you’re offended by that sort of thing, don’t click on it.

To order a shirt, click on the picture.

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No sweatshop rhetoric here–Jordanian dialogue about working children

You can’t help but love the Jordanians. When they have a problem what do they do? Drink tea. It’s not as weird as it may seem.

In the west, we march, we denounce, we demand, we ridicule, we do all kinds of things that end up polarizing people and putting people into opposing camps so they can’t talk to each other, but can only defend more and more entrenched positions. Then we pass some laws. The ones whose ideas weren’t included in the law have to follow the law anyhow no matter how unhappy they are.

The Jordanians drink tea. They begin by enjoying life, then they start to talk, to explore each others’ needs, to reach consensus.

So when Jordanians decided to tackle the problem of child labor, they started by recognizing that children do work and that the laws against child labor are widely ignored. Then they sat down and just talked. I feel fairly confident in stating they probably also drank tea. At the end of it, they had a document that some businesses were willing to sign about how, not if, children would be used in the labor force.

The products offered on my webspace are all sweatshop free. If a product’s sourcing changes or cannot be documented, I remove the product. But I will also continue to watch how the Jordanians approach the subject of child labor.

The following is from The Jordan Times 7-5-07. Articles remain online for one week.

Code of conduct on working children launched

 
   
AMMAN (JT) — A code of conduct designed to regulate and better address the working conditions of children in the country was launched this week.Various government entities, businesses, civil society organisations signed the code, which was formulated after extensive meetings and discussions on the need to provide working children with improved protection and awareness.The code of conduct, developed as part of activities of the ILO’s International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour was launched in a ceremony at the Chamber of Industry.The code will present employers with clear guidelines on what is expected of them in the workplace, so that they adhere to ILO conventions and recommendations on working children and will adopt these codes.The code pinpoints areas of concern, such as health, safety hazards and long working hours.

Thousands of children across the country presently work long hours in dangerous and unhealthy environments.

According to the law, children between 16 -18 years of age are not permitted to work more than a six-hour day, with employers liable to a JD500 fine if caught in violation.

In reality, hundreds of children work more than 12 hours a day with little enforcement of regulations.

According to a recent Ministry of Labour study, 13 per cent of working children in the country are subjected to forced labour, with over 16 per cent earning a meagre JD10-50 a month.

Most of the children surveyed were found to be school dropouts aged between 9-17 and working an average of a 60-65 hour week to help supplement their families’ income.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

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Related posts:
Cafepress changes to non-fair trade product, jr. baby doll tees removed
Make a difference on World Fair Trade Day–contact CafePress
Is CafePress.com hiding sweatshops?
CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern
Skreened.com offers Fair Trade tee shirt alternatives

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Posted in Fair Trade, Jordan, الأردن. Comments Off on No sweatshop rhetoric here–Jordanian dialogue about working children

Cafepress changes to non-fair trade product, jr. baby doll tees removed

Tomorrow CafePress is scheduled to replace the American Apparel manufactured “Jr. Baby Doll T-shirt” with something called the “Jr. Jersey T-Shirt” of unknown origin. American Apparel is a company whose fair labor practices are well documented. CafePress has revealed nothing at all about the sourcing of the replacement product.  Since all tees offered here are ethically produced and can be documented to have been produced without sweatshop or child labor,  the “Jr. Baby Doll Tee” has been deleted.

CafePress still offers organic, fitted, hoodie, raglan, tank top and dog t-shirts from American Apparel that are ethically produced.  Those items have not been deleted.

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Related posts:

Make a difference on World Fair Trade Day–contact CafePress
Is CafePress.com hiding sweatshops?
CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern
Skreened.com offers Fair Trade tee shirt alternatives

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Posted in Fair Trade, Products, T-shirts. Comments Off on Cafepress changes to non-fair trade product, jr. baby doll tees removed