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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?

    • Payment of A Living Wage

    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 family’s 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 women’s 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 "bad" companies.

    7. Does the NLC support boycotts of companies and/or countries?

    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 Kohl’s campaign, Americans organized and participated in actions and demonstrations all across the nation, leading to a decisive victory for workers in Nicaragua.

    1. Use the resources on this website (http://www.nlcnet.org) to learn more.


    2. Read the urgent action alerts and sign up for our list-serve to receive them on e-mail.


    3. Organize and participate in campaign actions and demonstrations to help real working people.


    Participate in the General Campaign

    1. Write letters to companies addressing your concerns. Send us a copy too.


    2. 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.


    3. Write articles or letters to your local newspapers, church bulletin, union paper, etc.


    4. 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 they use.


    5. Organize a demonstration, vigil or other event at a local Wal-Mart store, or any other retailer that has been caught using sweatshops.

    9. I’m 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].

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