Sweat-Free and Fair Trade Products
By purchasing products that are fairly traded, cooperatively produced, or produced in a unionized factory, you can help end sweatshop and forced child labor.
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We urge companies to source from unionized factories or cooperatives. We encourage companies to abide by Fair Trade principles as set forth by the Fair Trade Federation and work to unite new green businesses with more established Fair Trade companies so that green businesses can learn best practices from each other.
You can find businesses committed to supplying sweatshop-free and Fair Trade products in Green America's National Green PagesTM.
The AFL-CIO has compiled the list below of companies using union labor.
Note: While the companies listed here use union labor, there may be other concerns about their social or environmental practices. A listing here does not constitute an endorsement by Green America.
Avon, Ben Davis, Carhartt, Graybear, King Louie, Kodiak, Nemisis, Oshkosh, Outdoor Outfit, Platinum Sportswear, Powers, Pro-Fit, Rubin Bros., Stone Cutter, Team Safety, Thinc Actionwear, Time Out for Her, Union Jeans, Union Line, Wagoner, Wigwam (United Food and Commercial Workers [UFCW]); Canyon River Blues, Diamond Cut Jeans, Sherpa Britannia, Men's 505, Men's 517, Texas Jeans, Kids 'R' Us, Sherpie, Toughskin, Eddie Bauer, JohnHenry, Silver Unicorn, Britannia, Five Brothers, Givenchy, Tallia Uomo, Alexander Julian, Hilton-Oak Gittman Brothers, HSM, Thomas Bradford (Union of Needletrades, Industrial,and Textile Employees [UNITE])
Jackets and Sweatshirts
Athletic Cap Co., B.D. Baggies, California Ranchwear, Chaps, Christian Dior from Warnaco Knitwear, Crystal Springs Shirt Co., Damon, Enro and Foxcroft from Apparel Group Ltd., Excelle Sheepskin and Leather Coat Corp., Fall River Shirt Co. Inc., Garan Inc., Garland Shirt Co. (Brooks Bros.), Leader Mfg. Co., Lifewear Inc., Liteear, Maple Mfg. Co., Paul Fredericks from Fleetwood Shirt Corp., Perfect Shoulder/Snap-n-Wear, Plains T-Shirt, Ree Sportswear Mfg. Shootout, Mountain, Stone Cutter from Universal Overall Co., Sure-Fit, Unionline, Union People Products, Windjammer by Universal Sportswear (UNITE)
Canvas Backpacks, Briefcases, and Tote Bags
American Umbrella, Kenyon Industries, Universal TravLer Inc. (UNITE); Winston, Platt Luggage (UFCW); Samsonite (International Brotherhood of Teamsters [IBT])
Writing Materials: BIC pens, Du-O-Lite mechanical pencils, Parker pens (United Steelworkers of America [USWA]); Shaeffer pens and pencils, Pelican pens (UFCW); International Paper (UFCW)
Kids' Scissors: Wisco Industries Inc., Clauss Cutlery (UAW)
Binders: Elbe-Cesco Inc. (Novelty Workers)
Books, Games, Puzzles: Golden Books (UAW); Walden Books from Rittenhouse Paper Co., Preschool Educational Aids from Ideal (USWA)
Musical Instruments: Yamaha Picolos, trumpets, trombones; Bach; Selmer USA; Bundy and Buescher clarinets, oboes, flutes, brass, bassoons, tubas, and baritone horns (UAW); E&O Mari Musical Strings (International Union of Electrical Workers [IUE]).
Union Built PC (Utility Workers Union of America[UWUA]/Communications Workers of America [CWA]/International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers[IBEW]); Van Elgort Information Systems (CWA, IBEW)
Air Step, Belleville, Brown Shoes, Carolina, Danner, Matterhorn, Natural Sport, Naturalizer, Nunn Bush, Red Wing, Stacy Adams, Totes Boots, Wolverine (UFCW)
Tech Sew Manufacturing
Band: Fruhauf Uniform Incorporated
The Company Store from AMerian Down and Textile, Hollander Home Fashions (UNITE); Pillowtex (UAW); Dan River Sheets (UFCW); Reliant Sheets (PACE International Union)
Personal Care Items
Shampoo and Hair Care: Alberto Culver VO 5 (UFCW); Halo, Colgate-Palmolive (PACE).
Toothbrushes: Bretton Square Industries, BSI (Office and Professional Employees International Union [OPEIU])
Toothpaste: All brands by Colgate Palmolive (PACE)
Other verification and labeling systems
In the absence of a unified, universally accepted strategy for monitoring and labeling “sweat-free” goods, some companies have taken steps toward greater accountability to consumers. Many are voluntarily purchasing the services of independent monitors/ certifiers discussed below.
This independent organization monitors looms in India, Nepal, and Pakistan, taking immediate action when it finds children weaving rugs. Retail businesses pay a fee to join, ensuring that their carpet suppliers are continuously monitored by RUGMARK. This association allows them to put RUGMARK's label on their carpets, telling consumers their rugs are free from child labor.
Verité, an independent, nonprofit monitoring organization, inspects factories for client companies. Verité has conducted more than 1,000 audits in 65 countries, researching all aspects of a factory's performance, including wage issues, production quotas, fire safety, disciplinary measures, discrimination, freedom to organize, sanitation, and use of child labor. Verité does not publish a list of companies they have audited, citing the fact that conditions can change rapidly at factories, in between visits by a monitor. Verité inspects factories only when companies ask them to, so monitoring is not necessarily constant.
Codes of Conduct
Some companies choose to join with associations that establish codes of conduct to screen out suppliers and factories that engage in sweatshop abuses. Most of these codes are based on International Labor Organization (ILO) guidelines, adopted in 1998, which encourage member countries of the United Nations to endorse minimum standards for worker rights, such as the right to organize and bargain collectively, a commitment to abolish child and forced labor, equal workplace opportunities, freedom from discrimination, and non-exploitative workplaces. Although each of the code-of-conduct associations listed below enforces some form of monitoring of its members' factories, none issues labels or guarantees constant compliance with ILO standards. For that reason, some anti-sweatshop activists criticize these associations for being less helpful or stringent than they should be. Nonetheless, the codes offer hope for a future where more companies take an active role in monitoring the conditions of their supplier factories.
Fair Labor Association (FLA)
An association of US-based garment companies, the FLA promotes internal monitoring by its member companies, but also independently reviews its members with accredited external monitors. The FLA posted its first annual report to its Web site in June 2003, including compliance reports on the suppliers for seven of FLA's 12 participating companies, such as Land's End, Adidas, and Nordstrom.
Social Accountability International (SAI)
SAI monitors factories on a plant-by-plant basis, and companies that subcontract with factories may join SAI's Corporate Involvement Program (CIP) to help them seek out compliant production facilities. Participating companies include apparel retailers Amana, Charles Vogele, and Eileen Fisher.
Worker Rights Consortium (WRC)
A nonprofit dedicated to helping universities enforce codes of conduct for their suppliers, the WRC counts more than l00 schools among its affiliates. At the WRC Web site, users can find factory monitoring reports on manufacturers who supply apparel and sports equipment to the affiliated universities.