Clean Clothes and Fair Food
Connecting People, Connecting Struggles
Voices from Clean Clothes and Fair Food --
A Conference to Promote Justice in Factories and Fields
“Clean Clothes and Fair Food, A Conference to Promote Justice in Factories and Fields” was a co-production of SweatFree Communities and the Alliance for Fair Food, held at Columbia Law School in New York City, April 27-29, 2007. About 135 people from a variety of organizations concerned with worker exploitation in a variety of industries participated in workshops, presentations, impromptu discussions, actions and performances. The conference would not have been possible if not for the countless volunteer hours of members of SweatFree Communities, the Alliance for Fair Food, Fair Food New York City, Campaign for Labor Rights, Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State, and the generous support of conference sponsors.
Clean Clothes and Fair Food was SweatFree Communities’ fourth annual conference, but the first one organized with an organization whose primary interest is worker rights abuses in the food industry.
Why did we come together for this conference?
On a global level we belong to a family of social movements comprising hundreds of thousands of organizations responding to growing ecological and social threats to our very existence. Zooming in on a small part of this global movement, we find organizations like SweatFree Communities and the Alliance for Fair Food organizing consumers in solidarity with workers at the bottom of supply chains, and demanding that the big purchasers at the top of these supply chains take responsibility for the welfare of workers in the most vulnerable positions. These organizations propose and create solutions that in the short term address specific injustices in certain industries – garments, food, and electronics among others – but also can help change the rules of a global economy based on exploitation if widely replicated across different industries. This broad convergence of goals, strategy, and analysis seems to us more significant than the dissimilarities between our organizations: fields vs. factories, fast food vs. (fast) clothes. Working in similar ways in different industries yields experiences that are fruitful for the advancement of one another’s efforts.
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