Ian Robinson Shares the Continued Growth and Needs of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium

Ian Robinson, Ph.D., is a Lecturer and Research Scientist in the Department of Sociology and the Residential College of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Mr. Robinson's research includes work on ethical consumer demand for sweatshop-free apparel and the impacts of neoliberal economic restructuring on labor unions and the rights, wages and conditions of workers.

You can download the interview in full here, or read it below:

Ethix: We know that SPC is currently in fundraising mode. What can our readers do to help?

Ian Robinson, SPC Secretary, UMich Ann Arbor Researcher and Professor

Ian Robinson: Yes! In fact, I just sent out a letter to movement activists and university colleagues asking them if they'd be willing to donate something to support the cause. I've already heard back from quite a few of them, which really feels good! Here is an abbreviated version of what I said to them in that letter:

The SPC builds on the insight that “collective” consumers – in this case, public entities -- have much more power to shape international commodity chain dynamics than individual consumers. Our membership currently encompasses three states and 13 cities including PA, NY, ME and Los Angeles San Francisco and Portland. Each of these (as well as many others not yet part of the SPC) has committed to purchasing public uniforms from sweat-free sources.

The SPC's members have gone beyond the other public entities with sweat-free ordinances by banding together to create a common model of purchasing standards; a common database of vendors, and a dense network of information exchange.

Read more

When You Want To Buy Genuine USA and Union Made Products, Ethix Merch Has Your Back!

 

When You Want To Buy Genuine USA Made & Union Made Products, Ethix Merch Has Your Back!

When Ethix Ventures started over 8 years ago we had one goal in mind: To help people find and purchase ethically sourced promotional products and apparel from manufacturing facilities throughout the United States. 

All too often we get requests from a variety of different businesses throughout the United States that would like to purchase ethically produced promotional products and apparel for the same price as a lesser quality (which are generally produced in sweatshops, and other less than ideal working conditions in manufacturing facilities around the world). Unfortunately, you can't have it both ways.

On the surface, the customized promotional products and apparel we sell may seem to cost more than what you’re used to paying for similar products, to better understand you have to consider how the products were made and whether or not those products were in fact imported. If we were comparing apples to apples, I might agree with you on cost, but fortunately we’re comparing apples to oranges.

Read more

Summer is Right Around the Corner Which Means BBQ'S, Outings & Ethically Produced Merch from Ethix

 

ethical promotional merchandise for summer, USA made BBQ swag, summer outing gear

Kick off Summer with fresh, tasty, USA, and Union Made customized merchandise for your upcoming outing or company picnic.

Summer is a time for making memories. The experience of a company outing, family picnic, or community gathering is usually pleasant and often not forgotten. If you are looking to create and add the wow factor that attendees can use at home or work, check out these customizable promotional products that can be given away to all the people that attend your summer event.   

Whether you are planning an upcoming company picnic, BBQ or family reunion you will find the perfect USA Made, Union Made, or Eco-Friendly promotional product at Ethix Merch. From re-usable keepsakes, to wearables and mementos Ethix Merch can help you make your event more memorable with a one of a kind customizable promotional product with your logo or other embellishment.

Here are four promotional product ideas that our staff thought would make perfect additions to your event. If you have any questions you can always contact us at your convenience for a custom price quote with mock up or other fresh ideas!

Read more

MayDay! MayDay! Labour Day!

2014 May Day Rally

 

Mayday, Mayday! Labor activists come together in solidarity to honor labor and workers all around the world every May 1, except in the United States that is. 

I noticed that the media didn't really mention any May Day rallies that were held on May 1 2014 around the United States. Most of the coverage if any, usually centers around more violent demonstrations than the peaceful ones. Let's face it, in the immortal words of Megadeth lead singer Dave Mustain, "Peace sells but who's buying" (Yes I admit I'm an 80's metal head). So with that said I thought I would try to separate the wheat from the chaff and talk a bit about the origins of May Day. 

Labor Day marks the end of summer and back to school, but doesn't truly honor the American labor movement or the American worker. In the United States, we typically honor the American worker on Monday, September 1 with a back-to-school sale from a big box retail establishment. (I really can't think of a better way to honor someone's hard work other than putting it on sale for 10- 15% off regular prices for 12 hours only. But that is besides the point, I digress!) 

For those of you who don't know, in many countries "Labor Day" is reminiscent of International Worker's Day which falls on May 1. This day, ironically celebrates the working class - or as Larry the Cable Guy might say, "The people who know how to get 'er done."  

Read more

Sweatfree Tribe Spotlight: Dr. Robert J.S. Ross

 

bob ross on sweatshops, futility of CSR campaigns, the global race to the bottomInequality and the Global Race to the Bottom

One of our tribespeople and mentor to CEO Kevin O'Brien is Robert J.S. Ross a now retired professor at nearby Clark University. Dr. Ross is a renowned scholar on sweatshop and author of Slaves to Fashion: Poverty and Abuse in the New Sweatshops.

Dr. Ross recently shared his viewpoint on how the international garment industry's global race to the bottom is raising inequality, low-wage misery, and fueling unsafe labor conditions here in the USA and abroad.

Thanks to all those involved in spreading these ideas. This series of contributions to Inequality.org by Dr. Ross are listed at the bottom of this blog as clickable links for his full articles.

"Inequality and the Global Race to the Bottom" as taken from Inequality.org:

"The chase after ever cheaper sites for manufacturing is causing rising inequality, low-wage misery, and unsafe workplaces in many parts of the world, the United States included.

By Robert J.S. Ross, April 28, 2014 

On April 24 — the  first anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh — labor rights advocates seeking justice for the survivors demonstrated the world over. Advocates are demanding “pay up” compensation to the families of the 1,138 workers killed and the 2,500 injured in the notorious building collapse.

In the United States, the International Labor Rights Forum wants the major purchasers of clothing from the factories of Rana Plaza — apparel brands and retailers ranging from The Children’s Place to Walmart — to pay fully and fairly into a compensation fund for the victims’ families. The Children’s Place and Walmart have announced they will make payments. But advocates are criticizing the small amounts and secrecy involved. 

Read more

Focusing on Transformative Trade: A Call to Action with Jonathan Rosenthal

 

We were grateful to be able to touch base with Jonathan Rosenthal after he spoke at this year's Fair Trade Federation's Annual Conference in Indianapolis. Jonathan has spent 30+ years working to transform business into a positive force for people and the environment. Jonathan was a cofounder and leader with the pioneering worker-owned fair trade company Equal Exchange. He also collaborated and cofounded the first US fair trade fruit company, Oké USA. Jonathan now consults on fair trade issues and is a principle at Just Works Consulting as well as the Executive Director of Coop Coffees.

You can download the interview in full here, or read it below: 

Ethix Merch: What was your experience at the 2014 Fair Trade Federation's Annual Conference held in Indianapolis? Can you reflect on your keynote speech and the roots of fair trade?

Jonathan Rosenthal of COOP Coffees, Keynote speaker at 2014 FTF Annual Conference, fair trade pioneerJonathan Rosenthal:  The FTF conference was a wonderful experience for me. I got to see some old friends like Bob Chase and Pushpika Freitas and meet many new fair traders, including some amazing young people—their sophistication, innovation and commitment renewed my faith in our capacity to create a more just world. 

One interesting thing for me was the experience of being with a largely artisan focused crowd as opposed to my usual coffee and food communities. The culture felt very different. While there is a similar passion in both, the coffee world is a bit hard edged, focused more on competing in a global food world and also aware of the ever changing biological reality of agricultural goods.

Also, the coffee world is more dominated by men, though fortunately there are more and more women emerging there as well. The artisan world is filled with strong women leaders and participants—very refreshing!

My keynote talk was originally inspired by an experience I had a few years ago with the TransFair USA (now Fair Trade USA or F-TUSA) website. When they started they told the story of fair trade starting in the 1940’s and moving up to include Equal Exchange, certification, and had a movement perspective. As they got more powerful I saw the history erased. Today, there is no mention of any history of fair trade, as though it was invented by F-TUSA.

My own spiritual tradition, Judaism, includes a powerful connection to understanding our own history, reflecting on it and continuing to learn from it. This erasing of history, including my own small role as a co-founder of Equal Exchange, I felt both as a personal and community erasure. Being cut off from history, I believe, creates an unhealthy hubris or sense of self-importance, pushes speed of action at all cost and removes much of the potential learning from our journey by removing the context. It also creates an urgency to solve problems that perhaps are not solvable. As I understood fair trade to be a simple tool that can become a way of life, I saw as an extension of the struggle for justice that has always been part of human communities.

Read more

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rinse & Repeat.

 

earth hour, continue earth hour past 60 minutes, use your power, earthhour.org

Today more than ever, people are becoming more socially aware of how the products that we use every day are produced and manufactured; however you should also be aware of the environmental impacts as well.

"Greening" the Promotional Product Industry

At Ethix, we continually strive to expand our promotional product offering to include as many environmentally friendly promotional products as they become more readily available and manufactured in the United States of America.

Eco and green products are now becoming mainstream as opposed to the exception.

We will always advocate for conscious consumption and ethical consumerism. Our goal is to help educate consumers and manufactures about the benefits of manufacturing and purchasing products made by union workers and in the United States of America. We want you to know what you're purchasing and how it was produced so that you can make the most educated decision possible.

Did you know that you can save the planet while still getting your message out? Here are a few ideas to consider:

Read more

Union Made Buttons, Pins, and Badges Galore!

USA Union Made custom badges, American made pins, Union Printed buttons

 

Your Source for Union Made Political Buttons and Badges

Buttons printed with a union bug make great promotional items for any political campaign that wants to extend its reach. In fact, union bug buttons are one of the most versatile promotional products on the market because they're truly one size fits all!

Unlike other wearable promotions, you need not worry about the "fit" of a button as everyone you're purchasing for will be able to wear them comfortably. You can use them to easily extend the messaging of your other election campaign supplies. 

Lapel Pin Options for Campaigns

From intricate die-struck lapel pins to more economical custom pins, we'll have just the right USA Made campaign pins to highlight your design and fit your budget.

Whether you're looking for the simplicity of delicately etched lapel pins or the vibrant color of digitally printed domed pins you'll find the perfect campaign pin style in our union made promotional pins line up.

Relevance of Customized Buttons

There's a rich history of celluloid buttons within activism, music scenes, and political campaigns. Any visitor to antique and thrift shops is bound to discover a treasure trove of these nostalgic momentos.

Union made political buttons can make an immediate, and significant impact. Whatever your message, whether it's needed just for a week or relevant for years, the return on your investment in domestically produced union bug pins and buttons is clear.

We find that buttons are often ordered in a hurry by our customers. Give us a heads up and we'll tell you what options are available in a pinch!

Read more

Made in USA: Fakers and Frauds

 

Don't Fall For It! Get Only Genuine USA Made Promotional Products!

Unfortunately there are those in our industry looking to cash in on unsuspecting individuals in the market for American made promotional items. With a simple slight of hand - presto! - their imported silicone wristbands can be confused with those made in the USA as they are devoid of country of origin signifiers. 

We've worked with individuals looking to recover from a faux pas as their last order with another company turned out to use imports. We love new Ethix clients, we just feel bad when we know someone else from Custom Chotskies Inc. tried to sell them imprinted promotional merchandise that was NOT genuinely made and printed in the United States.

Find Authentic USA and Union Made Promotions

With the Made in USA movement continuing to build momentum (as it should!) there is an increased demand for American Made custom products and apparel. This growing demand also makes room for those looking to turn a unscrupulous profit off trusting individuals and organizations.

Blank products are stripped of their tags, stickers are removed, fake union bugs are added to screens, and stories are concocted for the inquisitive. We've seen this fraudulent behavior in print shops, other distributors, and from clients that came to Ethix after being "had" by one or the other.

Read more

Be Mine! Organizations We Love (But Mostly Admire)

 

A Valentine Message to Our Tribe

This is our love letter to the organizations and individuals that work tirelessly to fight for human rights and dignity in domestic and international supply chains. Our hats are off to you! 

Better let my heart be without words, than my words without heart.

- John Bunyan

Our team of Merchant Adventurers lives by Bunyan's statement. We believe the work that we do, and the jobs that we support, makes a measurable and significant impact on the lives of workers and their families.

Our work, in conjunction with that of sweat free, labor, and eco-minded movements, directly aids in creating a positive shift in the United States (and across the globe) for worker rights.

Ethics and Missions We Align With

We offer an ever expanding list on our site of organizations dedicated to refining ethical standards. We work with these organizations on orders, awareness raising, and organizing for change for factory laborers and the garment industry. 

Read more
Syndicate content