Celebrating International Women’s Day

Today we honor and celebrate the hundreds of women in Mumbai with whom we work. We honor their determination, courage and skill. It has been an amazing journey over the past decade to have seen the co-op grow, to see how women’s lives have been touched and how their experience has rippled through their communities.


IMG_1242 woman and sewing machine at tb trainingIMG_1968

To read more about how fair trade impacts women’s lives you can visit the Fair Trade Federation whose members create meaningful, lasting change in the lives of women.

International Women’s Day has been recognized since the early 1900’s, marked by the UN since 1975 and today is officially honored in 27 countries and celebrated worldwide.

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” Gloria Steinem

March 8, 2014 at 11:23 pm Leave a comment

End Gap & Walmart Death Trap Factories: Safe Workplaces for All 10 city tour, April 8-26, 2013

This tour will be coming to Washington with events at the University of WA (6:30-8:30 pm Savey Hall Room 260 at UW) and in Olympia (sponsored by Sweatfree NW and the South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign) April 23-(location to TBD)

WHAT: 10 city tour with Sumi Abedin, a survivor of the Tazreen fire, and Kalpona Akter, rd. executive director of Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity

WHEN: April 8-26, 2013

SPONSORS: Corporate Action Network, International Labor Rights Forum, Making Change at Walmart, SumOfUs, SweatFree Communities, United Students Against Sweatshops, and Warehouse Workers United

MORE INFO: All tour events will be posted on Corporate Action Network at http://corporateactionnetwork.org/campaigns/end-death-traps-safe-workplaces-for-all-workers-tour


For more than a decade, Gap, Walmart and other major brands have produced clothes in Bangladesh factories that they know are fire traps. As a result, since 2006, over 600 apparel workers, mostly young women, have died in what could have been preventable factory fires.

Now, two major apparel makers—PVH/Tommy Hilfiger and the large German retailer, Tchibo—have signed a legally-binding fire safety agreement that calls for independent fire inspections of all of the Bangladesh factories they use and requires them to pay for the necessary measures to make these factories safe, and to give their workers a say in how to accomplish this. Gap and Walmart have refused to join that agreement and Walmart continues to obstruct efforts to achieve fire safety in the factories it uses in Bangladesh as reported in The New York Times on December 5, 2012 (“Documents Indicate Walmart Blocked Safety Push in Bangladesh”).

It’s time for Gap and Walmart to address their history of deadly negligence and take responsibility for workers’ safety before one more avoidable tragedy occurs.


* Demand that Gap and Walmart join the legally-binding fire safety agreement already signed by PVH/Tommy Hilfiger and German retailer Tchibo requiring independent fire inspections, workers’ voice in fire safety measures, and making retailers financially responsible for the necessary measures to prevent factory fires which have killed over 600 workers since 2006.

* Demand that Walmart pay the compensation it owes to families of the workers killed in the Tazreen fire and to injured workers.

* Demand that Walmart stop obstructing fire safety efforts in Bangladesh apparel factories as documented in The New York Times on December 5, 2012.


* During the tour visit:

o Nonviolent direct actions at prominent Walmart and Gap stores

o Delegation to Walmart and Gap headquarters

o Talks at universities in support of student activism urging university affiliation with the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent monitoring organization

o Meetings with state government policy makers to encourage the adoption of sweatfree procurement policies and membership in the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium

o Meetings with federal government to ask lawmakers to call on US companies to adopt binding fire safety agreements

* In any city anytime during April:

o Leaflet at your local Gap or Walmart store o Sign the petition to Gap at http://laborrights.org/gappetition

o Sign the petition to Walmart at http://corporateactionnetwork.org/campaigns/human-rights-for-all-walmart-workers-the-bangladesh-fire/petitions/demand-that-walmart-ensure-basic-safety-and-human-rights-of-its-workers-2

o Repost tour highlights from @ILRF on twitter and https://www.facebook.com/InternationalLaborRights


The tour will feature garment worker Sumi Abedin and labor rights advocate Kalpona Akter.

Sumi Abedin is a Bangladeshi garment worker who survived the November 24, 2012, fire that killed 112 workers at Tazreen Fashions, a factory that supplied Walmart, Disney, Sears, SeanJohn, and Dickies, and produced US Marines logo apparel for Delta Apparel / Soffe. Sumi was working on the 4th floor of the factory at the time of the fire and survived after jumping from the burning building.

Kalpona Akter is the executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), one of Bangladesh’s most prominent labor rights advocacy organizations, and is herself a former child garment worker. BCWS is regarded by the international labor rights movement and by multinational apparel companies as among the most effective grassroots labor organizations in the country. Levi Strauss & Co. calls BCWS “a globally respected labor rights organization, which has played a vital role in documenting and working to remedy labor violations in the apparel industry in Bangladesh.” Kalpona is an internationally-recognized labor rights advocate and has travelled widely to speak about the deplorable conditions that Bangladesh garment workers face every day. She was interviewed extensively by local and international media following the deadly fire at Tazreen Fashions in November 2012.

New York Times, December 28, 2012, “As Walmart Makes Safety Vows, It’s Seen as Obstacle to Change”:

“The Walmart system of audits and inspections is not improving the factory safety conditions here in Bangladesh,” said Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity. “They maintain this system to enable them to keep their hands clean and deny responsibility.”

April 11, 2013 at 10:32 am Leave a comment

Tribal Canoe Journey by Haley McClure

It was a proud week for Native people as Squaxin Island Tribe hosted ingenious Nations from the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Canada and New Zealand and beyond, as well as over 12,000 visitors on their ancestral land. The Squaxin Island Tribe named this year’s Canoe Journey: “Teachings of Our Ancestors”.

The Annual Canoe Journey has strengthened the ties of Pacific Northwest coastal tribes since its creation in 1989, when nine canoes participated in the Suquamish Tribe’s “Paddle to Seattle.” Now, more than 100 canoe families—from Port Gamble S’Klallam, Swinomish, Makah, Suquamish, Cowichan, Lummi, Muckleshoot, Elwha, Chemanius B.C., Tulalip, Quinault, Squamish B.C., Songees B.C., Ahousaht B.C., Puyallup and LaPush—make the annual voyage to celebrate the revival of traditional travel on the ancestral highways of the coastal Pacific Northwest. Cedar canoes are the traditional mode of transportation for Pacific Northwest Tribes on inland waterways.

Each summer, a different tribe hosts the canoe landing. This year, hundreds of canoes descend upon the Port of Olympia where Squaxin Island Tribal dancers and drummers welcomed the paddlers, many of whom have traveled weeks.

The Squaxin Island Tribe named this year’s Canoe Journey: “Teachings of Our Ancestors.”

The Squaxin tribe are descendants of seven tribes that prospered among the inlets of south Puget Sound, and are known as “The People of the Water,” because the waterways were their highways for hunting, fishing, trading and potlatching with other tribal families.

The canoe journey is about healing. For tribal people, it’s about reconnecting with their history and teaching new generations of tribal members about their traditions and culture that for a long time were in danger of being lost.

Charlene Krise, a member of the Squaxin Island Tribal Council and executive director of the tribe’s Museum Library and Research Center, says the revival of the canoe journey has rejuvenated tribal nations to reclaim their traditions. For the South Sound nontribal community, it was also healing in the building of stronger bridges between cultures.

Hundreds of people worked together to organize the largest canoe journey in its recent reincarnation. Given the Squaxin Island Tribe’s historic and cultural reliance on its natural and traditionally used resources; the Paddle to Squaxin Green Team was committed to upholding the teachings of our ancestors to care for Mother Earth.

A tremendous amount of waste is generated with over 12,000 visitors to the Squaxin Island Tribe Reservation. The Green Team planed intricately with Mason County recycling and Thurston County Natural Resources for low-waste canoe journey. When visitors were celebrating and camping Green Team members diligently and with smiles on their faces picked up and sorted hundreds of pounds trash. It was a dirty job but the support of all visitors, volunteers, and community members the bins became full and the reservation sparkled. This event is another sign that efforts to protect the environment, human health, and community welfare and above all cultural exchange uplift us.

For more information and pictures visit: http://paddletosquaxin2012.org/

Haley McClure works with Marigold Fair Trade and is currently creating a video about the Canoe Journey and her experiences volunteering on the Green Team.

Haley McClure and Sonny George

August 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm Leave a comment

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