July 07, 2018
This morning’s Wall Street Journal bears a headline that “Nike Rethinks Pay, Bonus Practices.” In the #MeToo era that we are living, Nike executives had to account for “ignoring an abusive culture,” as the USA Today put it. The Wall Street Journal characterized it as a “Boys-Club Culture” at the end of March. According to thee USA Today, the decision amounts to a wage increase for about 10% of all direct Nike employees. These are welcome steps, but it is simply the tip of the iceberg.
Nike has a vast supply chain where many people critical to the company’s bottom line are exploited and under paid. We have talked about this issue in this blog previously, including this post. While we celebrate this advance for some 7,000 direct Nike employees, we continue to mourn for so many individual factories where that number labors at a pittance and amid great hardship. Nike must take greater responsibility for the care of workers in its supply chain. While acknowledging the wrong done to these direct employees, Nike remains willfully blind to the wrongs done to so many more workers the world over. A global company like Nike can, and must, do better. As Nike used to say, “Just do it!”
July 07, 2018
Flor Molina, a survivor of modern slavery in Los Angeles who has become a champion for trafficking victims and survivor protection, has been announced as the recipient of the 2018 Fashion for Freedom Award from Free the Slaves. Her inspiring journey from sweatshop slavery to human rights activist and U.S. State Department adviser embodies exceptional dedication and impact.
The Fashion for Freedom Award was created by Free the Slaves to honor changemakers working in ethical fashion and slavery eradication. The honor recognizes one person advancing those fields through creative and effective methods. Through her activism and advocacy, Molina embodies the purpose of the award.
Molina speaks for those affected by the atrocity of sweatshop slavery in the garment industry. Trafficked herself from Mexico to the U.S. in 2001, she was forced to work in a garment factory in Los Angeles. After Molina’s child died in Mexico because she could not afford medical expenses, she was “an easy target” for her trafficker, she says.
Forced to work 18 hour days for more than a month, Molina convinced her trafficker to allow her leave the factory to attend church. She never went back. The FBI began an investigation and connected Molina with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST), a nonprofit that provides comprehensive, life-changing services to survivors and advocates for groundbreaking policies and legislation.
Since her escape, Molina’s amazing work advocating for others highlights those who have been affected by labor trafficking. “The media covers a lot about sex slavery but doesn’t talk about the labor side. I’m eager to raise awareness about labor trafficking because I am a labor trafficking survivor,” Molina says.
In 2012, alongside a number of anti-slavery organizations, Molina advocated for creation of the California Supply Chain Transparency Act. Under the law, manufacturers and retailers must disclose efforts they have taken to ensure their supply chains are slavery free. She recalled that most businesses were wary about supporting the concept until hearing her personal story. This underscores the vital importance of survivor leadership in the anti-trafficking movement.
In 2015, Molina was appointed by President Barack Obama to America’s first-ever U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. During her two-year term, Molina provided detailed recommendations to the president and federal agencies to strengthen U.S. policy and programs to combat human trafficking at home and abroad.
“As a survivor, advocate, activist, expert – and so much more – Flor has been a champion for the conscious consumerism movement for many years now,” Free the Slaves Fashion for Freedom coordinator Allie Gardner said. “She’s an inspiration and a true leader, and those of us fighting for a more ethical fashion industry can learn a lot from her.”
Free the Slaves will formally present the Fashion for Freedom award to Molina July 28 at the Fashion for Freedom Event in New York, where she will have the opportunity to address the event’s guests and visiting journalists. When asked what she plans to tell them, Molina said: “I want everyone to know that human trafficking exists in all industries, including the garment industry. We, as consumers, can and should be part of the solution.”
Molina’s story is recounted in a number of media outlets:
Free the Slaves will formally present the Fashion for Freedom award to Molina July 28 at the Fashion for Freedom Event in New York, where she will have the opportunity to address the event’s guests and visiting journalists.
Learn more: www.ftsfashionforfreedom.com
(Much of the above content was drawn from Free the Slaves’ press release.)
July 07, 2018
Last week, the U.S. Department of State released its Trafficking in Persons Report for 2018. The full, 486-page report can be found here. The annual report contains assessments on global progress fighting human trafficking. First published in 2011, the report offers one of the more systematic global views of trafficking in persons as well as the charting of progress from year to year.
In the report, countries are evaluated into three tiers. Tier 1 consists of “countries whose governments fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards.” Below Tier 1, Tier 2 contains countries that may not meet the TPVA standards, “but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.” A “Tier 2 Watch List” consists of countries that are similar to Tier 2, but have other issues, such as an increasing number of trafficking cases or a lack of improvement on previously-implemented anti-trafficking efforts. Tier 3 countries are those “whose governments do not fully meet the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.”
We know that the garment industry, from the cotton field to the factory, is one of the top industries plagued by human trafficking. The Atlantic even declared “All your clothes are made with exploited labor.”
The cotton campaign has developed statements for both Uzbekistan which was upgraded to tier 2 http://www.cottoncampaign.org/us-decision-fails-forced-labor-victims-in-uzbekistan.htmland Turkmenistan which remains at tier 3 http://www.cottoncampaign.org/turkmenistan-remains-in-the-lowest-possible-ranking-in-the-annual-tip-report.html. Catholic News Agency covered the report here, noting that trafficking remains a problem in the U.S.