A study just released by the Sweatfree Northwest Campaign and SweatFree Communities titled "Subsidizing Sweatshops: How Our tax Dollars Fund the Race to the Bottom, and What Cities and States Can Do" analyzed 12 factories producing goods such as uniforms worn by city employees--the contracts for which are paid for with citizens' tax dollars. The Coalition aims to end contracts between governments and factories that violate human rights, particularly because these larger contracts have so much more impact than the comparatively tiny difference made in an individual's modification of their shopping habits. The study found "widespread" labor and human rights violations among the industry, including at a Korean-owned factory called Alamode in Honduras. One of the companies that contracts with Alamode is Cintas Corporation, which in turn has a 2008 contract with Oregon Operations and Maintenance Branch. According to the report, workers at Alamode work for poverty wages, are forced to work unpaid overtime, and all female workers are given mandatory pregnancy tests annually--a positive result is cause for firing. For more info on the coalition's efforts, and to download a PDF of the entire report, follow the link above.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!