More Than Money
Issue #10

Learning From Each Other

Table of Contents

“Are Your Investments Really Responsible?”

I've been shocked to learn that several premiere "socially responsible" companies contract with factories in Central America that are abusing human rights.

These assembly factories, known as "maquiladoras", mainly produce clothing. The workers are usually young women between 14 and 18 years old. For approximately 35-55 cents/hour, they work 12 to 22 hours a day in hot, unventilated rooms. They have no access to clean drinking water and may suffer verbal and physical abuse, including sexual harassment.

What I most want More Than Money readers to realize is how many of the companies you may buy from or invest in are using maquila labor. The "socially responsible" companies I happen to know of include The GAP, Liz Claiborne, Merwyn/Dayton Hudson, Sears, Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney, Russell Corp. (Jerzees brand), and Nordstrom. Although some of these companies may no longer be clients, there are numerous other American companies that both own maquiladora factories or contract with them. This includes "trendy" companies like Eddie Bauer, Ozark Mountain and Pierre Cardin, and other familiar names such as Bloomingdales and Marshalls.

If you find any these names in your portfolio, please contact those companies or your portfolio manager and apply your influence as a shareholder. Following one campaign led by the National Labor Committee, The GAP tentatively agreed to suspend business with one of the factories until overall working conditions improve significantly. So pressure does work!

To find out whether your goods are being made by abused foreign labor, contact the National Labor Committee, 15 Union Square , New York , NY 10003 , or call (212) 242-0700 x 583.


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