Barbie has more rights than the 16-year old girl who makes her

going-home-barbie

John Ruggie, UN expert on human rights, on supply chain monitoring:

Just about everybody, at least off the record, will tell you that monitoring doesn’t work and auditing of supplier factories doesn’t work because people cheat.

Ruggie is quoted in Women’s Wear Daily.  The piece goes on to mention that 70% of the factory audits are flawed and that the most viable option of monitoring and training lies with the Fair Labor Association.

The National Labor Committee was all over this report and makes a strong argument why labor laws must be upheld:

If Barbie Doll can be legally protected, by intellectual property and copyright laws, we sure…

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iPod contest coming soon

I’m hammering out the details on the upcoming iPod giveaway.  Details should be up Tuesday.  Big stuff in the works for next week. Lots of awesome posts coming….

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Nike blasted by Australia's Channel 7 News

I wasn’t aware that Made in Malaysia might mean made by imported, forced labor.  The story below shows Bangladeshi workers crammed together.   Their passports are confiscated and they earn $5 per day.

Click Here To view Nike Human Rights Investigation!

Look, if $5 per day is at or above the average wage, I don’t have a problem with it.  But every worker should have the right to go to their employer and say, “take this job and shove it!” When an employer confiscates passports and manages to workout relationships in which the employee owes them, that’s slavery and it needs to be stopped.

This story’s heart is in the right place, but it’s reporting is a bit thin. I would have liked to see a few more questions answered:

Bangladeshi workers weighed…

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Where Am I Wearing? Cotton

I know what you are wearing.

Maybe your computer cam is on, you think.

Maybe I’m standing behind you.

Or maybe I know what you are wearing because we’re all wearing it — cotton.  (In fact, the first person who proves they aren’t wearing any cotton — nudity excluded — I’ll send a copy of my book “Where Am I Wearing?”). My shorts are 75% cotton and my shirt is 70% organic cotton.  Socks = all cotton.

I know what you are wearing and by checking the “Made in Labels” you know where you are wearing, but there is one question that I’m betting neither one of us can answer: where is the cotton we are wearing from?

A lot of cotton is still produced right here in the U.S. If your T-shirt says…

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Have a look around

Today is the unofficial launch of the new site. We’re still tweaking some things but would love to hear what you think. Next week is the official launch and we’ve got a bunch of fun stuff planned including the iPod giveaway.

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A big thanks to BootsnAll

Since early in 2007, BootsnAll.com has hosted this blog for free.  Today all that changes.

In high school and college I never knew anyone that had or even wanted to throw a few possessions in their backpack and head out for a few months to a foreign land.  Call me sheltered, but at the time I wondered if people even did this sort of thing.  When I started to float the idea with family and friends, most of them never knew either.

Enter BootsnAll and their community of friendly travelers. Their message boards are filled with like-minded folks who are happy to lend help with an itinerary or packing list.

I’ve always felt indebted to the community Sean Keener and Chris Heidrich have created.  They helped me…

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Garment Workers asks: "Does the labor behind the label matter to you?"

I stumbled upon a profile of a woman in Bangladesh who has worked in and around the garment industry for decades. Today she works to give the workers a voice, help secure loans for and educate them.

When I was in Bangladesh I met some former-garment workers turned organizers. It’s right up there on the list of thankless jobs. In many cases, including this woman’s, the organizers have been blacklisted and couldn’t return to the industry if they wanted to.

How much to push before they price their industry out of work? But there is plenty of room for improvement in Bangladesh; wages there are some of the lowest in the world.

I also spent some time with the owners of the factories who are being squeezed pretty…

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At Home in Utopia

With GM and Chrylser going bankrupt there’s a lot of blame that gets directed towards unions.  Unionized labor at GM costs $71 per hour.  In comparions Toyota has no unions and their labor cost is only $47 per hour.

Joann Muller wrote a great piece in Forbes on why the unions aren’t to blame.  She writes that one of the major expenses GM faces aren’t employees being paid that much more than the workers at Japanese automakers, but the legacy costs.

it’s misleading to suggest that Detroit autoworkers are paid $71 an hour. About $17 of that is the cost of health care insurance for retirees. General Motors has 442,000 retirees in North America, four times as many current employees. Toyota has only 371 retirees in…

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Interviewed by Budget Travel

JD Rinner at Budget Travel recently interviewed me.  I need to take the photo of me in Honduras off the photo page I send to media folks.  They always choose that one. When I use the photo in presentations I accompany it with, “Come on. Would you let that joker into your factory. The fro…the T-shirt… Really?”

The cool thing about the interview is that they asked some travel related questions I haven’t been asked.  Have a sample:

Q: What’s your best tip for travelers going to foreign countries—like really foreign countries?

A: Trust someone you meet, but be weary of anyone who approaches offering help.

Q: How do you make sure you’re experiencing a place as a local would?

A: That’s easy. Experience a place with a local by your side. Make…

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A Donut Rant

This morning I was craving me some donuts.  So it began…

“You don’t need any,” the reasonable part of me said, “You’ll be on a sugar high for a few hours and then you’ll crash on the couch worthless for the rest of the day.”

“But I just want two,” the rest of me pleaded.

“How bad do you want them?”

“How about I run first. That’ll wake me up and burn some calories.”

“Deal.”

So that’s how the bargaining went down. I ran and then, 45 minutes later, I was standing in Concannon’s Donut shop staring at case after shiny case of glazed, sparkled, filled, iced, and sugared doughy goodness.

I picked my two and stepped to the counter to pay.

I pulled out my credit card.

“Oh,” the donut lady said, “we only take credit cards…

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