Support H&M WorkersThere's a reason their prices are so cheap, people!
Hundreds of protesters and H&M workers rallied outside H&M outlets in New York City and Washington, DC October 24, exposing the Swedish clothing retailer's global record of worker harassment and sweatshop abuses. In New York City, where activists staged a mock fashion show, H&M rescheduled the grand opening of a new store at the last minute after getting word of the action.
"Within the past year, I've been seriously injured three times," says Deyanire Bautista, an H&M distribution center worker in Secaucus, NJ. "I've had boxes weighing 50 pounds topple off of shelves onto me, but management just tells me to keep working."
Every H&M employee in Sweden and most of Europe is covered by a union contract and the company publicly commits to respecting workers' freedom to join a union. However, management responded with threats, law breaking, and harsh anti-union tactics when U.S. workers demanded union representation.
This holiday season, UNITE, H&M workers and allies will protest H&M's business and expose the company's record of labor abuse to customers. Additionally, UNITE is working with Swedish unions to mobilize a global campaign and hold the company accountable to workers' rights.
For more information, check out: UNITE!
To her credit, I should say that Salomé does what she can to support my attempts to live responsibly wherever possible, even coming up with a few web sites that we can use for Christmas shopping: Ten Thousand Villages, Global Marketplace and Lucuma Designs. There's also Co-op America's Green Pages Online, a directory of companies with demonstrated commitments to social and environmental responsibility.
It's sad that it's not more convenient to do the right thing - community banking, in particular, is a tough one once you've gotten used to online banking - but then that's exactly why it's so important. It's the people that can and do that ultimately make it easier for others to join in. Basic economics of supply and demand: the more people demand responsible products, the more attention they receive, the more they become available and the easier it becomes to live responsibly. It's the same logic people seem to understand when it comes to consumer electronics (remember when you couldn't get a cheap computer for under $1000?) but can't quite seem to grasp when it comes to something like Fair Trade.
And yes, sometimes it costs more to do the right thing. That's short-term thinking, though. Like so many other conveniences of our society, we're simply mortgaging our kids' futures if we don't look at the long-term.