I am excited for the Labor Day fair coming up and working on my booth now. But be warned everyone, you will want  something from my booth and not everyone you live with will be happy about it. But it’s a good thing trust me.

Apple's joins the Fair Labor Association, power of U.S. Universities

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As Apple’s iPad is poised to become a future mainstay and fixture at colleges and universities, the one monkey on Apple’s back has been its own labor policies and practices.

United States colleges and universities have long been a driving force for fair labor around the world.

Apparel and merchandise licensed for sale by universities are almost all required to be a member of the Fair Labor Association (FLA) or otherwise commit to and insure certain labor conditions for workers.

As many schools are readying to provide or make iPad and ebook type devices part of the learning experience, Apple’s labor practices and its historic reluctance to conform to any set of labor standards and/or explicit manufacturing location disclosures, would have been an ultimate deal breaker for colleges and universities to make deals with Apple.

So it is not some higher plain of enlightenment that has helped Apple see the light, but the decades of fighting for fair labor at U.S. colleges and universities that aligned profit motive with moral motive.

Read More: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/13/BU761MP6A5.DTL

Image Credit: http://www.softwarenewsdaily.com/2010/03/apple-admits-to-using-child-labor

After a thorough, independent investigation found significant issues with working conditions at three factories in China operated by Apple’s major supplier Foxconn, the Fair Labor Association secured groundbreaking commitments that will reduce working hours to legal limits while protecting pay, improve health and safety conditions, establish a genuine voice for workers, and will monitor on an ongoing basis to verify compliance. The nearly month-long investigation found excessive overtime and problems with overtime compensation; several health and safety risks; and crucial communication gaps that have led to a widespread sense of unsafe working conditions among workers.
—  The report on Apple’s (and other tech companies) Chinese manufacturer is in! And it’s not pretty. Changes afoot. [h/t ProducerMatthew]

FEED Projects’ mission is to create good products that help FEED the world. We do this through the sale of FEED bags, bears, t-shirts, and other accessories by building a set donation into the cost of each product. Thus the impact of each product, signified by a stenciled number, is understandable, tangible, and meaningful.

We take great pride in using environmentally-friendly and artisan-made materials, along with fair-labor production, in creating all FEED products.

A wonderful way to end the week :)
After months of protests, Cambodian garment workers will be paid wages and severance owed to them.

Just two days after 82 workers launched a hunger strike on the sidewalk in front of a Walmart supplier in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, companies that supply to Walmart and H&M agreed to pay workers about $200,000.

“We decided to go on hunger strike to show that we are not workers who can be pushed around,” said 26-year-old Sorn Sothy, one of the leaders who worked in the warehousing department of the factory. “We are strong, committed, and united.”

Can Apple be ethical and innovative?

When it comes to technology, Apple has revolutionized its industry and set a standard other companies aspire to meet. The company has been richly rewarded for its success. It is now the biggest publicly traded company in the world, worth a whopping $465 billion. The company made $17.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 alone—just shy of a 40 percent profit margin.

But Apple’s record-breaking success comes at a back-breaking price. According to news reports, workers who assemble iPhones, iPads and iPods at Foxconn, Apple’s largest supplier in China, have needlessly suffered lifelong injuries and even died from avoidable tragedies, including suicides, explosions and exhaustion from 30- to 60-hour shifts. And there are stories of workers suffering such awful repetitive motion injuries that they permanently lose the use of their hands.

Apple is under intense scrutiny right now. But rather than deal with that by genuinely addressing the problems in its supply chain, we believe the company is trying to stop the outcry by brushing its problems under the rug.

Recently, Apple joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to arrange for inspections of its factories. We believe these inspections will not expose—or begin to solve—Apple’s problems. The FLA is funded and controlled by the multinational corporations it oversees, which means it is not at all independent. As Scott Nova of the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) recently said, independence “means an organization is not funded and governed by the companies it is charged with investigating.”

A couple days ago, Foxconn also announced a recent raise for some of its workers. But we believe that, too, is a PR smokescreen. According to Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, “The new basic wage…only applies to the workers in Shenzhen. In inland provinces, where two-thirds of production workers are based, basic salary remains meager. Given that the inflation in China is high, Foxconn is just following the trend of wage increase in the electronics industry in China.”

We call on Apple to immediately allow genuine unions, with truly independent factory inspections and worker trainings. Trying to brush this under the rug—or hide behind a front group like the FLA—only will make Apple’s PR problems worse.

One anonymous Apple executive told The New York Times there’s a trade-off between working conditions and innovation: “You can either manufacture in comfortable, worker-friendly factories,” or you can “make it better and faster and cheaper, which requires factories that seem harsh by American standards.“

We disagree with the idea that Apple can’t be both ethical and innovative. Apple needs to ensure the quality of its working conditions matches the quality of its products.

Thank you for standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in China.

In Solidarity,

Richard L. Trumka
President, AFL-CIO

Obama Makes His Boldest Economic Move Since Taking Office
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama this week will propose a plan to extend overtime pay to 5 million American workers who are currently excluded under federal law, according to sources.

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama this week will propose a plan to extend overtime pay to 5 million American workers who are currently excluded under federal law, according to sources.

The president will recommend updating overtime rules so that salaried workers who earn less than roughly $50,400 per year would be guaranteed time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. Under the current rules implemented by former President George W. Bush, salaried workers must earn less than $23,660 per year in order to be automatically eligible for overtime pay.

The president announced his intention to make overtime reforms last year, but the details of the plan have been kept secret until this week. The president is expected to discuss the proposal later this week during a visit to Wisconsin. Details of the proposal were first reported by Bloomberg.

In a blog post on The Huffington Post Monday night, Obama said that “too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve,” and that his proposal would help assure that “hard work is rewarded.”

“That’s how America should do business,” the president wrote. “In this country, a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. That’s at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America.”

With heavy lobbying by business groups, many progressives feared the White House would recommend only modest changes, thereby impacting relatively few workers and employers. Instead, the White House has proposed a substantial reform that has the potential to change pay and scheduling for millions of people.

Employers whose workers become newly eligible for overtime will now face a choice: Either pay a premium for those extra hours worked, or get the employee’s hours below 40 per week, likely by shifting the labor to other workers. The proposal would be robust enough to cut across industries, bringing many workers either more pay or more time off, and forcing many employers to grapple with overtime costs that they never had to before.

The proposal must still undergo a public-comment period before it can be finalized and go into effect, but the release of a concrete proposal will mark a major step in what’s likely to be one of the president’s most far-reaching reforms undertaken without congressional approval. The changes are expected to go into effect in 2016.

Last year, Obama signed an executive order directing the Labor Department to overhaul the overtime rules, setting off a lobbying campaign in Washington. On one side were labor groups, progressive economists and Democratic lawmakers who pressed for an ambitious reform that would reach a large share of the U.S. workforce. On the other side were employers and business lobbies that wanted to limit the rule’s effects as much as possible, given the new labor costs they would face.

Under wage laws established during the Great Depression, employers must pay overtime to hourly wage earners and salaried workers who aren’t considered white-collar. But the current rules give employers a lot of leeway to classify workers as managerial and therefore ineligible for time-and-a-half pay. As HuffPost reported in 2013, this phenomenon is especially prevalent in the retail industry, where store managers can work 80-hour weeks without any pay beyond their base salary, even though they may be doing mostly manual labor.

Obama pointed expressly to these workers in an interview with HuffPost in March.

“What we’ve seen is, increasingly, companies skirting basic overtime laws, calling somebody a manager when they’re stocking groceries and getting paid $30,000 a year,” Obama said. “Those folks are being cheated.”

Workers whose salaries fall beneath the threshold are guaranteed overtime pay regardless of what their bosses call them. Although the reforms are expected to hit industries like retail the most, the impact will be felt in any field where the hours are relatively long and the pay relatively low.

Since the threshold hasn’t risen alongside American salaries, overtime pay has become something of a foreign concept for most Americans – something that could now change. According to estimates from the Economic Policy Institute, just 11 percent of salaried workers in the U.S. are covered by overtime law under the current rules. That share would be closer to half of salaried workers under the new proposal, by EPI’s estimates.


Caged Life: The Living Condition of Foxconn’s Workers

1. Iron bars sealing off windows and balconies in the factories and workers’ quarters.

2. No where to escape when fire breaks out.

3. 200 people living in a common room, every where is full of stinky smell.

4. Workers are not allowed to bring friends and family members to their quarters.

5. Male and female workers are not allowed to visit each other inside the quarters.

6. No one is allowed to talk to each other inside the factory or at the quarters.

7. No one is allowed to use any electric appliances over 200 w.

8. Must carry the worker’s ID batch anytime. Security guards check the batches every time any worker goes in and goes out. If anyone is found walking around without carrying the ID batch, they may be surrounded by a group of security guards who beat them down.

9. Cooking is not allowed inside the quarters. 

10. Washing clothes are not allowed inside the quarters.

11. Curfew on quarters 24 x 7 x 365. Close surveillance and monitoring on workers 24 X 7 X 365 inside the factories and at the quarters.

12. Quarters are frequently out of electricity and hot water supply.

All of these rules are enacted as strategies to ‘improve’ work safety standards;  to ‘prevent suicides’ ; to ‘enhance’ productivity by fusing all arenas of a worker’s private life with his/her laboring life to deliver maximum productivity.

Workers live like industrial breed caged animals-injected with unknown hormones-their only lifestyle is: sleep, eat and labor. 

Source: Ngai, P; Chan, J and Mark Selden. (2015). Dying for an iPhone: The Hidden Struggle of Chinese Workers. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Chapter 6 and 9

“In an effort to uphold the value of design, promote better practices and to encourage meaningful experiences for interns, AIGA Connecticut is asking all Connecticut private sector businesses to support a pledge started by AIGA Philadelphia to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act and compensate all design interns fairly.

Please visit the AIGA Philadelphia website to learn more and offer your support to this vital cause. By clicking “I agree”, your name and company will be included on a list of designers, design firms and companies supporting the Paid Internship Pledge. Please also feel free to use the “CT Supporter” logo you see here and display it proudly on your website or blog.”

Logo © AIGA

Meet IP at the Decatur Book Festival and Dragon Con

We’re happy to announce that Interlude Press will be participating in the Decatur Book Festival, the nation’s largest independent book fair, Labor Day Weekend.

Visit us at Booth #405, where we will have a full stock of books and several IP authors available to sign and chat about their stories, including: Killian B. Brewer, Lynn Charles, AJ DeWall, Erin Finnegan, C.B. Lee, Rachel Davidson Leigh, F.T. Lukens, S.J. Martin, and Carrie Pack (and possibly more).

Three IP/Duet authors will also be presenting in the Emerging Writer’s Stage. All readings are followed by signings:

We’ll also have specials available only at the Festival, so if you’re planning to be in Decatur for the Book Festival or for DragonCon, be sure to stop by the IP booth.

Authors C.B. Lee, Rachel Davidson Leigh, F.T. Lukens, and Carrie Pack will also be presenters at Dragon Con September 2-5 in downtown Atlanta. Join all four authors at the Bi SciFi panel Saturday at 5:30 pm and the panel What FanFic Authors Bring to the World of Publishing Sunday at 2:30 pm. Both panels will be held in the Macon Room of the Sheraton Atlanta.

Also on Saturday, join C.B. and Rachel in the LGBTQIA in YA discussion at 11:30 am in Room A707 at the Atlanta Marriott.  

All four authors will also be selling and signing their books throughout Dragon Con at vendor tables 1223 and 1225. 

We’ll see you in Georgia!

Goodbye, Nike.

Luke, age 11, is voluntarily ending his Nike obsession, after reading articles  about working conditions and human rights violations in Nike’s overseas factories.  And I really do mean obsession: he previously spent all his chore and gift money on Nike products, including expensive basketball shoes, socks, shirts, pants, and so on. It’s a lot.

Now his favorite athletic apparel brands are Adidas and Under Armour. From what he’s read, those brands are much better at social responsibility. Not perfect, but much better. For example…


  • Manufacturing: These guys clearly don’t want to be associated with the less-than-stellar human rights record of their competitors (*cough* Nike!*cough* *cough*). Adidas has a specially appointed team whose job is to not only conduct audits of their factories, but to work with their owners and managers to improve their compliance with global labor standards. Adidas also partners with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to run independent factory audits, and they encourage workers to report any abuses by letting them anonymously text their suggestions, a system that’s met with great success.
  • Environmental: Adidas has a detailed five-year strategy to decrease their environmental impact and invest in sustainability efforts — they’ve actually sat down with Greenpeace and promised to put an end to all of their hazardous chemical discharges by 2020. They’re thinking a lot about their carbon footprint as well: Adidas is shooting for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2015, and their energy efficiency programs have saved nearly 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide in Indonesia alone.
  • Philanthropy: Adidas has terrific corporate volunteer programs, and they support healthy communities through the Reebok Foundation (which is part of the Adidas Group) and the BOKS program, which brings school fitness programs to marginalized children. Adidas is a gigantic company, but they’ve used their size for good, spending millions on a broad range of initiatives in the developing world, with a particular emphasis on education, child welfare, and (of course) sports programs.

Under Armour

  • Manufacturing: This rising star of the active wear industry will not work with any manufacturers that engage in child labor, forced labor, discrimination, or poor health and safety standards. All of their Asian and Central American factory workers are guaranteed the minimum wage and compensation for overtime, and they enforce a zero-tolerance code of conduct that prohibits any form of corruption.
  • Environment: Their UA Green clothing line is one of the most eco-friendly we’ve seen. Every year, two million recycled plastic bottles are used to make their clothes, shoes, and hats, and Under Armor strives for a neutral environmental impact by buying one kilowatt hour of wind power for every kWh of electricity they use. They’ve also made hefty donations to Big Belly, an organization that installs solar-powered trash compactors all over Under Armour’s home town of Baltimore.
  • Philanthropy: Under Armor likes to dedicate clothing lines to specific causes. Their Power in Pink range sends its profits to several breast cancer organizations, and their Freedom line will have donated over a million dollars to injured veterans by 2014. Under Armor also works with Habitat for Humanity to build housing for underprivileged families, Big Brothers Big Sisters to mentor high schoolers, and many other charities.

(The text above is quoted from a 2013 article, “The 14 Athletic Wear Companies That Are Actually Good for the World.”)

I tend to be suspicious of corporate philanthropy and eco-friendliness — is it really doing the good they say it is? — but these manufacturing approaches appear to be a few notches above Nike’s famous sweatshops.

For Luke, it doesn’t hurt that his favorite basketball player, Steph Curry, switched his corporate allegiance from Nike to Under Armour.  Or that Curry’s signature shoe line with Under Armour features his favorite Bible verse — a branding move that Nike allegedly refused to do for Curry. 

Au revoir, Nike. Hey, you still got LeBron.

What’s up everyone! With school starting, I know the activity has been a little slow. Let us know if you need a hiatus to get you through Syllabus week! We’re also planning a Labor Day fair. Carnival rides, food trucks, games, and a concert. If your character would like to have a booth (Pet the Police Dog, Face Painting, Art Sales) let us know so we can include the info in the event poster! I tagged some people that might be interested, but obviously you can message us with other ideas as well!

@beth-moran @ryrynelson @sav-doyle @braidenknox @shit-zayawes @bringonthesun