Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the National Labor Committee
The National Labor Committee (NLC) is
an independent not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting
and defending human and worker rights in the global economy.
2. What does the NLC do?
The NLC exposes human and labor rights
abuses committed by U.S. companies producing goods in poor countries
and organizes campaigns to put an end to these abuses.
3. What is the race to the bottom?
In the global sweatshop economy, corporations
pit workers and communities around the world against each other
in a race to the bottom over who will accept the lowest
wages and benefits, the most miserable working and living conditions.
4. What are some examples of the human costs
of the race to the bottom?
Women in El Salvador are paid just sixty cents an hour
less than one-third of the basic cost of living to sew
clothes for major U.S. companies. They are stripped of their
rights and fired if they become pregnant, refuse to work overtime
or are even suspected of trying to organize a democratic union.
Young workers in China, behind 15-foot high walls topped with
barbed wire, assemble Keds sneakers, applying toxic glues with
their bare hands.
5. What do working families in underdeveloped
nations and the NLC ask of the U.S. companies?
Women in El Salvador sewing $75 Nike shirts
are forced to raise their babies on coffee and lemonade because
they cannot even afford milk. Companies must pay a living wage
which at least meets a familys basic subsistence needs,
allowing them to crawl out of misery and into poverty.
- Full Public Disclosure of All Factory Names and Addresses
The American people have the right to know
where, in what country, in which factory, under what human rights
conditions, and at what wages, the products we purchase are
made. Dragging these factories out into the light of day will
make it more difficult for the companies to violate human rights
and pay starvation wages.
- True Independent Monitoring
Once factory locations are known, local,
respected, religious, human and labor rights, and womens
organizations can independently verify whether human and
worker rights standards are being respected.
6. Does the National Labor Committee publish
comprehensive lists of "good" companies and "bad"
companies? Why or why not?
No. Because companies refuse to tell the public where their
goods are produced, there is no way to know if any one company
is making real efforts to improve working conditions. Recent
gains in the movement for full disclosure primarily the
victories of the student anti-sweatshop movement
may soon allow for comprehensive lists of "good" and
7. Does the NLC support boycotts of companies
No. Taking people's jobs away helps no one. This is
not a boycott. This is a struggle to keep jobs in the underdeveloped
world, but jobs with dignity, justice, and fair wages. The only
boycott the NLC endorses is that against the military
dictatorship in Burma. See: http://www.freeburmacoalition.org
or the NLC Burma reports
for reasons why.
8. How Can I Get Involved?
Participate in Breaking Campaigns
It really works: In the recent Kohls campaign
Americans organized and participated in actions and demonstrations
all across the nation, leading to a decisive victory for workers
Participate in the General Campaign
- Use the resources on this website (http://www.nlcnet.org)
to learn more.
- Read the urgent action alerts and sign up for our
list-serve to receive them on e-mail.
- Organize and participate in campaign actions and demonstrations
to help real working people.
- Write letters to companies addressing your concerns. Send
us a copy too.
- Distribute informational literature to members your community,
and I Care Shopper Cards to clothing stores
that you patronize. Organize a meeting with community or religious
groups, labor unions, students, friends and family to educate
people in your community. Show any of our videos on sweatshops
and the Race to the Bottom and begin organizing actions
and events. Materials are free of charge, and can be
ordered by phone or through the web-site.
- Write articles or letters to your local newspapers, church
bulletin, union paper, etc.
- Work to pass a Public Disclosure Ordinance in your
city or town. The Ordinance forces companies doing business
with your city to release the names and addresses of the factories
- Organize a demonstration, vigil or other event at a local
Wal-Mart store, or any other retailer that has been caught using
9. Im a college/high school student. How can I get
involved in the movement to stop sweatshops?
- United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) is an
enormous movement of student groups fighting sweatshops
on their college and university campuses across the U.S.
and Canada. Visit their web-site at http://www.usasnet.org,
or call 202.NO.SWEAT.
- Student Committee Against Labor Exploitation (SCALE)
is an anti-sweatshop organization of high school students
(http://www.nlcnet.org/scale or 212.242.3002).
You can join an email list of interested high school students
by writing to [email protected].