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 .

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?


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.


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


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 hiding sweatshops?
CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern offers Fair Trade tee shirt alternatives


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.


Related posts:

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


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

Shopkeepers who don’t want to sell t-shirts produced in sweatshops or with child labor are still waiting to find out how the marketing department at is going to supply information about the origins of their products. Fortunately Cafepress offers shopkeepers the option of choosing which products to offer for a given design, so I will continue to offer their products identified as either union made or made by American Apparel, whose fair labor practices are well documented.

In the meantime, I will start offering tee shirts through Skreened uses only shirts made by American Apparel and donates 10% of its sales to a not-for-profit called Asia’s Hope. So when you wear one of their shirts, you know it was not made with inhuman labor practices or child labor.

Here are the same Arabic language tees I have been offering now in summer colors from Skreened:

The green shirt is based on the “T-shirt of mass destruction” that got Raed Jarrer thrown off of Jet Blue airlines. It says “We will not be silent”, in Arabic pronounced “lahn nesmitt”, and has the English translation underneath. The one pictured has dark blue letters, you can also get black letters.

The white shirt says “I heart New York”, also in Arabic. So far, you can also heart Chicago, Jordan, Amman, and Baghdad. If you want to heart something or someone I don’t have listed, post a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

The slogan on the yellow tee is from a sign I saw at an impromptu street demonstration while Christmas caroling at Daley Plaza. It says “Who would Jesus torture”. If you are fond of the Geneva Convention, there are several designs with this slogan.

You can check out the designs here.


Related posts:

Make a difference on World Fair Trade Day–contact CafePress
Is hiding sweatshops?
CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern


CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern

Last week I wrote about CafePress and their plan to discontinue a tee shirt made by American Apparel, a manufacturer known for its fair labor practices–and substitute a T-shirt made by an unknown source.

In a letter I wrote to them, I pointed out that I offer only sweatshop-free T-shirts. If I can’t determine the source of a shirt, I can’t offer it for sale. I also pointed out that the market for free trade coffee has grown by 75% in the last year. There is no reason the fair trade t-shirt market can’t grow as well.

Monday I received a reply from Director of Merchandise Cindy Clarke. Ms. Clarke writes:


I understand your concerns.  CafePress shopkeepers require a broad
spectrum of product choices to build their product assortments.  Since
our objective is to cover as many of those shopkeeper requirements as
possible, some of the items that we source are domestic and some are
sourced internationally.  Likewise, our product assortment covers both
branded and CafePress Exclusive Label items to meet the broad demand.
We leave it up to Shopkeepers to determine which products are
appropriate for their shops.  CafePress services as many Shopkeepers as
possible both legally and ethically.  

We have had several requests like yours for specific and detailed
information about our vendors and we are currently investigating how
when we can provide specific information about individual vendors.
more detailed information is available we will communicate out to the
CafePress community. 

Best wishes,

Cindy Clarke
Director of Merchandise

Well, that’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that CafePress can have something manufactured on the cheap in a sweatshop and hide it behind their “exclusive store label.” The good news is that they are “investigating how and when“, not if, they can provide information about vendors. That would give some real alternatives to those of us who don’t want to sell or wear a t-shirt, however cheap, made possible by inhumane working conditions and child labor.CafePress needs to hear from more people who buy or sell t-shirts. If you have not yet written to CafePress, can you take a couple minutes to drop them an email? If you have a blog, you might consider blogging about it as well.


Related posts:
Make a difference on World Fair Trade Day–contact CafePress
Is hiding sweatshops?


Make a difference on World Fair Trade Day–contact CafePress

So what have you done today to promote Fair Trade?

Here’s something you can do without leaving your keyboard. Contact 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
b) — 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:

Ms. Clarke:

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


Related posts:
Is hiding sweatshops?
CafePress responds to Fair Trade concerns with form letter, maintains holding pattern