There’s a lot of stuff that relates to the issue of forced labor, and obviously, it’s very difficult to discuss it on a 5 minute appearance on a comedy show. I will keep posting related articles and links to groups who are doing different things to fight the issue.
Fighting against labor slavery is not as simple as catching a few bad guys here. Labor slavery only happens in sectors of the economy that are already horrible and VERY unprogressive. Like agriculture. You never see, for example, slavery cases popping up in the auto industry or the airline industry, because the people who work in these industries are protected by unions. And yes yes yes, we’ve heard a lot about how bad unions are, but if they help keep workers from being enslaved, well, gee, thumbs up.
Fixing the problem of forced labor in agriculture is actually not that complicated. As Kerry Trueman, co-founder of EatingLiberally.org, a netroots organization advocating sustainable agriculture, progressive politics and a less-consumption driven way of life, writes in The Huffington Post:
Bowe expresses the hope that Americans would rather not knowingly purchase goods made by slave labor. He’s also optimistic about the power of organizations like the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to shine a light on this very dark side of our food chain. CIW’s mission is to help migrant workers, bring their exploiters to justice, and shame corporations into raising their standards.
They’ve succeeded in getting the Department of Justice to prosecute some of the worst subcontractors, and they’ve also persuaded Yum! Brands, which owns Taco Bell, to pay an additional penny per pound directly to their tomato pickers. That may not sound like much, but, according to Bowe, it will nearly double the pickers’ wages. And, pressured by CIW and a coalition of church and student-based groups, McDonald’s has agreed to a similar program.
Fixing the problem of forced labor requires awareness of the problem and willingness to push for change. Company by company, and with an increase in political pressure on our politicians, it’s the kind of situation that can and will be radically improved.
Anyway, thanks to everyone for the nice response here in the blog, on MySpace and via e-mail. Please keep coming back, even if there’s nothing interesting here for a while.