Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Who Made Your T-Shirt?

"I want to be a voice for those who are in fear, who don't have the power or the courage to come forward," she says. "There were a lot of people who helped me; I call them my angels. I want to be one of them for someone else."

These are the words of Flor Molina, a thirty-four-year old woman, who was trafficked from Mexico and enslaved in a sweatshop in Los Angeles. She was forced to work seven days a week from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. She was slapped if she didn't work fast enough. Against all odds, Molina made it out of slavery. She now works as a security guard and wants to be a sheriff to help others.

Literally tens of thousands of people are trafficked from El Salvador, Mexico, Korea and China to the United States and enslaved as workers in fields and sweatshops. In 2000, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) passed, which protects victims of sex and labor trafficking; the Bush administration has failed to fund and implement it.

The reality is that buying a T-shirt because it says Made in the USA does not guarantee that it's free from exploitation of labor, inluding people just like Molina. You need to buy goods that are Union-made for the assurance that they are sweat-shop free.