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Corporate Social Responsibility

Since at least the 1980s, global supply chains of major brands have spread to countries where governments have demonstrated little will or capacity to regulate the many workplaces that enter into business relationships with these brands. In such places, labor laws often are weak or poorly enforced, workers’ rights are not recognized and workers effectively are blocked from organizing unions and engaging in collective bargaining with employers to bring wages above poverty level. Basic safety and health standards and human rights at many of these workplaces routinely are violated. Locating production in these most precarious parts of the global supply chain has become a standard means for international brands to maximize revenues and press for an edge on their competitors by driving production costs ever lower.

This report ( English , Español ) digs underneath the façade of social auditing and certification schemes to reveal a deeply disturbing abdication of responsibilities on the part of both governments to protect human rights at the workplace and of companies to respect these rights by exercising due diligence regarding the impact of their business activities and their business relationships.

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A Global Supply Chain Still Built on Worker Misery: The Garment Industry in Bangladesh

Brian Finnegan
A Global Supply Chain Still Built on Worker Misery: The Garment Industry in Bangladesh

Nearly five years after the torture and assassination of Bangladeshi labor leader Aminul Islam, the country's garment-sector employers and the government continue to persecute workers who try to exercise basic rights. In the three weeks since a December strike to protest the paltry $68 per month minimum wage, garment employers and the government have again shown their hostility toward workers and their rights. At that wage, workers in Dhaka would need to spend 60% of their income solely to rent substandard housing in a slum, leaving little to live on in a city about as expensive as Montreal (where the minimum wage is more than ten times higher).

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