The Common Good
September-October 1998

Season of Conscience

by Bob Hulteen | September-October 1998

Since its founding in 1994, the People of Faith Network has organized targeted
campaigns to educate religious people about the conditions under which the clothes they
buy are made.

Since its founding in 1994, the People of Faith Network has organized targeted campaigns to educate religious people about the conditions under which the clothes they buy are made. With efforts to publicize the Third World sweatshop conditions of affiliates of such U.S. corporations as Disney, The Gap, and Guess? Inc., as well as the famous Kathie Lee Gifford campaign, this national, multifaith coalition has been putting its faith into action.

David Dyson, founder of PFN, Presbyterian pastor, and former labor organizer, has raised the discussion of sweatshop conditions to a national level. Dyson argues that, in a global economy, only improving the situation for workers in other countries can preserve U.S. jobs and working conditions.

This fall, PFN is targeting Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world. Wal-Mart maintains a caring, community-oriented image, but its plants in the Third World have been linked to 10-to-12-year-olds working for 8 cents an hour in Bangladesh; worker beatings in Guatemala; and young women sewing hand bags for 13 cents an hour, seven days a week.

PFN's holiday efforts include the Season of Conscience Campaign, with the slogan "Children belong in schools, not sweatshops.ö PFN believes that most Americans, if informed, would not support companies paying starvation wages to children, and so wants U.S. corporations to abide by independent monitoring of Third World plants and full disclosure concerning conditions so consumers can make informed decisions.

To this end, PFN is organizing People's Right to Know Day on October 3 (which officially kicks off the Season of Conscience), and a candlelight vigil on Human Rights Day, December 10. For more information, contact PFN, Lafayette Ave. Presbyterian Church, 85 South Oxford St., Brooklyn, NY 11217; (718) 625-2819.

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