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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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Students Protest at REI in Rockville, Md., Demanding It Stop Stocking North Face Products

Cassandra Waters
Photo courtesy of USAS

On Saturday, 20 activists were arrested during a protest outside Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) in Rockville, Maryland. Students and community leaders came together to demand REI stop stocking The North Face, whose parent company VF Corp. has been linked to serious ongoing labor violations in Bangladesh, including a deadly factory fire in 2010 that claimed at least 20 lives. Despite repeated incidents and issues, VF Corp. has refused to sign the Bangladesh Accord on Fire Safety (the Accord).

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