The Sweatshop Hall of Shame 2010 highlights apparel and textile companies that use sweatshops in their global production. Hall of Shame inductees are responsible for evading fair labor standards and often are slow to respond or provide no response at all to any attempts by the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), workers, or others to improve working conditions.
The official inductees of the 2010 Sweatshop Hall of Shame are: Abercrombie and Fitch, Gymboree, Hanes, Ikea, Kohl’s, LL Bean, Pier 1 Imports, Propper International, and Walmart. This list also includes an Honorable Mention to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, a national trade association representing apparel and footwear companies. This association has exhibited a flagrant disregard for workers’ rights by primarily focusing on maintaining trade with Honduras in the middle of a military coup.
Most of the companies listed employ laborers who toil for long hours under dangerous working conditions for poverty wages. When these workers attempt to form a union to voice their collective concerns, they face threats from management and risk being fired or even beaten. Many of this years’ inductees use suppliers that practice illegal tactics to suppress workers’ rights to organize. Some of the companies mentioned weave shame into their clothing by continuing to use cotton sourced from Uzbekistan where harvesting is accomplished through forced child labor.
Though this list highlights the most abhorrent of companies, they are certainly not the only offenders. They represent a mere sample of a global industry in which brands have persistently flouted the rights of workers for more than a decade.
Don’t despair - not all is bad news in the clothing industry. For many years, the International Labor Rights Forum and SweatFree Communities have published the Shop with a Conscience Consumer Guide – a list identifying “sweatfree” options for the ever-increasing number of consumers interested in buying clothing made under ethical and worker-friendly conditions. You can find out more at www.Sweatfree.org/shoppingguide.