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On May 29, Marc Jacobson of the Texas Fair Trade Coalition convened a meeting of activists interested in stopping worker abuse. Jacobson helped the City of Austin pass an "anti sweat shop" ordinance, is involved in doing the same in San Antonio, and will lead a new fight in Dallas.
The group assembled at the Trinity Presbyterian church building and was hosted by the newer "Church in the Cliff." Several church members attended, along with activists from the Dallas Area Christian Progressive Alliance, Jobs with Justice, Dallas Peace Center, Denton Students for a Democratic Society, Voices for Immigrants, and others.
Jacobson began with a question, "How do we stop worker abuse, particularly in the garment industry?" He talked about the Austin victory and said that another 50-60 cities have passed similar ordinances that require city government to buy textiles and laundry services from companies that do not practice the worst forms of "sweat shop" worker abuse. The cities sign a code of conduct and agree to a monitoring system.
Unions such as UNITE-HERE cooperate with this movement and believe that it helps their organizing drives, Jacobson said. The strategy is to build a mighty single-purpose coalition with more and more progressive organizations. Activists will increase their knowledge of the issues as they work. Eventually, they will work with city government agents and elected officials to craft an "anti sweat shop" ordinance that fits the situation in Dallas. Information about the San Antonio effort is available at www.sweatfreesanantonio.org.
Jacobson has already shown one film in Dallas. It was "China Blue." Dr. Ron Wilhelm also suggested "Behind the Label" and "The Empire's New Clothes" as good information sources. Jacobson said he was pleased with this first turnout and was optimistic about getting an ordinance passed in Dallas. He concluded, "Dallas is pretty do-able!" Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org