Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Nike True Confessions, Part 2: Unheard No More Blog

Whew. I'm glad I got that off my chest, about buying the Nikes. It really was inhibiting my ability to blog properly. I'm such a total poseur. Last year, I posted about how I would never shop at the Gap again because they were caught (for the second time) using child labor. I haven't shopped there, by gum, since I made that announcement, but then here I am buying from another notorious user of sweatshop labor.

I became aware of the Unheard No More! Blogspot blog in the middle of April when I read about how representatives from our government are in cahoots with the clothing manufacturers that abuse guest workers to the Commonwealth of the North Mariana Islands (CNMI). This blog focuses mostly on abuses of the guest workers and the women who get sold into sex trafficking within the CNMI, and works to help these people gain U.S. citizenship.

I emailed the author of the blog and asked, "is the CNMI the place where companies can make clothing there and claim that it's 'Made in USA' because it's connected to the United States?" The author emailed me back in the affirmative. Here's a pullout from the Wikipedia article on the CNMI:
Some extreme labor practices, not common elsewhere in the United States, have occurred. Some of these labor practices include forcing workers to have abortions, as exposed in the March 18, 1998, episode of ABC News' 20/20, and enslaving women and forcing them into prostitution, as in the U.S. Department of Justice conviction of several CNMI traffickers in 1999 attests. In 2005 and 2006, the issue of these regulatory exemptions in the CNMI was brought up during the American political scandals of Congressman Tom DeLay and lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
So what does this all mean to you? Well, from my vantage point, I read Unheard No More! and just think that CNMI is a cesspool of corruption and I just don't want to be involved in that level of skulduggery. I am certain that most of the people of the CNMI are kind, generous folks but the people in power are perhaps not so much.

Reading things that talk about corrupt commonwealths that abuse their guest workers makes me sleepy (I think it's some sort of stress reaction). It also makes me want to avoid buying new clothes ever again. Better yet, it makes me want to make all my own clothes. Because, you especially can't count on the "Made in USA" label to be any kind of indicator of working conditions.
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