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Friday, July 02, 2010

SweatFree Purchasing Policy for the City of Seattle

Seattle to Begin Using Sweatfree Uniform Purchasing Policy

Seattle joins nine states, 40 cities, 15 counties, and 118 school districts with sweatfree policies


SEATTLE -The new policy requires sweat-free labor standards and a Code of Conduct for all bidders on City uniform contracts and makes a commitment to protections against slave labor, forced labor, forced overtime, excessive hours, child labor, below-poverty wages, discrimination, harassment, and other types of unfair labor practices. The new policy will be integrated into bid and contract materials and used as contracts come up for new bid.

Every year Washington suffers the loss of several thousand trade-related manufacturing jobs. About the new policy Councilmember Licata said, "When incentives exist for fair business practices, the competitive ability of companies with fair labor practices can increase and this can also level the playing field for regional manufacturers, helping our local Seattle economy retain manufacturing jobs."

The U.S. Department of Labor cites over 50 percent of the sewing shops in the United States as sweatshops violating labor, environmental, and human rights laws and standards. The U.S. federal, state, and local governments spend approximately more than $10 billion annually on apparel procurement. The City currently spends approximately $1.3 million on uniforms for City employees.

As a result of the City Council's unanimous request in 2009, the policy was developed by the Department of Executive Administration in collaboration with the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, the King County Labor Council, the Seattle Women's Commission, and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. It was presented to Councilmember Licata's Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee last week.

Click here for a copy of the policy.

Posted By: Beth Provo @ 2:13:53 PM

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

marigold clothing sale and documentary showing!

Join us for an afternoon of fair trade treats, music and a documentary about the organic farmers and co-op of over 300 women we work with. We will also have an unveiling of our new summer clothing and housewares!!


Event Schedule:
12-1 Marigold Documentary and Q and A
12-4 Marigold's 2010 line of dresses, skirts, tops, jackets and housewares will be on display for purchase with chai and refreshments served all afternoon!

Music by Diane Sonntag and JL throughout (from Gaelica).

Located at: Heart of Wellness
205 Clark Place SE
Tumater, WA 98501


For more info contact: 888-205-1697

Posted By: Beth Provo @ 3:37:57 PM

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fair Trade Indulgence

This weekend we will join Theo Chocolate, Tully's and Flying Apron (local gluten free, vegan bakers) for an event at Fabric of Life Boutique in Edmonds. Join us from 12-4 for  chocolate, coffee and baked goods samples and check out our new summer line! 


Fabric of Life is located at 523 Main St in Edmond, WA.

Posted By: Beth Provo @ 2:29:45 PM

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Vancouver becomes Fair Trade City

Vancouver has become the first major Canadian city to be certified for Fair Trade Town status.

That means it buys products such as coffee, tea, sugar and even soccer balls that have been made ethically and for which producers largely low-income farmers and labourers have been paid fairly.

In a largely symbolic gesture aimed at showing the city is leading by example, Vancouver council on Thursday voted to take the final step toward achieving Fair Trade Town status.

It did so by completing an application by Fair Trade Vancouver, a non-profit group, to have the city declared a fair-trade environment.

The city says it likely won't cost taxpayers any more to stock its meetings, cafeteria and offices "where possible and practicable" with fair trade items. That's because since 2005, Vancouver has had an ethical purchasing policy that does largely the same thing.

But council hopes the Fair Trade Town designation will give a solid boost to the growing consumer movement toward buying goods from cooperatives and countries that agree to pay living wages to those who produce them.

"It means you are committed to a path of progress on your purchasing decisions," said Coun. Andrea Reimer.

"I don't think I've ever had a taxpayer tell me they want me to use their taxes to drive down labour standards and environmental protection in other countries."

Advocates of fair trade said Vancouver's decision will help convince the general public that buying products that cut out the middleman and deliver more profits to poor farmer workers is increasingly the right way to go.

And they point to an increasing array of price-competitive fair trade goods that have made their way into everyday use.

In Metro Vancouver, a surprisingly large variety of goods are now available under the fair trade label, including coffees, spices, vegetables, rice, fruit, flowers, wine and those Pakistani-made soccer balls.

"I was in Save-On-Foods the other day and I found fair trade vanilla beans of all things," said Lloyd Bernhardt, president of Ethical Bean Coffee, one of a growing number of specialty coffee producers in the Lower Mainland.

If there wasn't that kind of demand, a large retail supermarket like Save-On wouldn't stock the product, he said.

The non-profit fair trade movement in Canada is less than 20 years old. A paltry 22,000 kilograms of fair trade-labelled coffee was first imported into Canada in 1998. But by 2008, that had grown to more than five million kilograms and now many specialty coffee shops proudly brag that their products are grown on fair-wage plantations.

In the intervening years, Transfair Canada, the Canadian arm of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), the not-for-profit worldwide certification organization, has added 11 categories. In 2007, wine and cosmetics became the newest products to be imported.



Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Vancouver+scores+first+with+fair+trade+status/2997074/story.html#ixzz0ne4GP0w2

Posted By: Beth Provo @ 2:01:48 PM

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Celebrating World Fair Trade Day

Traditions and Marigold celebrate World Fair Trade Day first with an event Monday, May 3rd. Cecilia Appianim of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union (Ghana) will be at Traditions with Niki Lagos of Divine Chocolate, a fair trade chocolate company owned by cocoa farmers. Traditions will provide free chocolate samplings and hear inspiring stories from Cecilia and Niki. Learn more about Cecilia.

On Saturday the 8th we will have free fair trade coffees and teas up until noon and music and drumming at various times during the day. Marigold's new documentary: Bridging the Gap Between Organic and Fair Trade" will be shown throughout the day. Back Porch Swing will perform at 8 PM. Tickets are available in advance for what will be a sold-out show. 

Posted By: Beth Provo @ 4:18:50 PM

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Honoring the Earth-Bridging the Gap between organic and fair trade

Fair Trade has many guiding principles including supporting a sustainable environment. When we began our business we were certain that we wanted to work in the most natural fibers with vegetable dyed fabrics. Our first line included hand block printed fabrics, all in vegetable dyes. In understanding the extent of the dirty cotton industry though travel in India and through research, we were also dedicated to converting more of our line to organic cotton. We found our match for organic cotton when we found an association of over 5000 organic cotton farmers to source our cotton and fabric. Our partnership developed and since we have been using their organic cotton for our yoga and everyday lines. 


A few facts about the dirty cotton industry:
-Conventional cotton farmers have high input costs and face the volatile cotton market where prices fluctuate and often do not meet their production costs. This forces farmers into spiraling debt and suicide is common. 
-Use of chemicals and pesticides is dangerous to farmers, their families, and livestock. Direct exposure to the fumes of these chemicals in the high temperatures of summer can lead to death.  Use of the harmful pesticides can cause breathing difficulties, circulatory issues, and cancer. The chemicals also seep into the water tables making the drinking water unsafe and destroy the natural fertile land.

The fair trade and organic solution:
-With organic farming the farmers use their own inputs by seed saving, using rain water for the crops and composting to provide natural fertilizer
-Farmers regain their dignity through fair trading conditions where consistent orders are made under fair prices. Farmers also have access to the fair trade premium which is given as an additional sum beyond the fair trade wage which farmers can use to put towards community projects. With the fair trade premium farmers have chosen to build new roads, start new enterprises such as vermi-composting and support their children's education. 

More stories from the farmers and women's co-op we work with can be found in our new documentary: "Bridging the Gap between Organic and Fair Trade" which will be released for World Fair Trade Day on May 8th!

Posted By: Beth Provo @ 2:37:23 PM

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Marigold is sponsoring this year's Bike Commuter Contest

It's time to ride! (then again when is it not?!)  Olympia is gearing up again for the May Bike Commuter Contest and Marigold is a sponsor!








For more info about events leading up to the contest, free bike tune-ups and to sign up go to:

Posted By: Beth Provo @ 2:13:11 PM

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Fair Trade Future's Conference

Each year, Marigold Fair Trade attends the Fair Trade Federation's Annual Conference. This year the conference will be held in Boston from September 10-12. Open to members and non-members alike-this is a great way to see the scope of the fair trade movement and connect with other folks involved. More on the conference:
 
Fair Trade Futures Conference: 
Transforming Our Global Community


 

From September 10-12, 2010, the Fair Trade Futures Conference will bring together entrepreneurs, students, advocates, faith community members, concerned citizens, interested individuals, and others in Boston, MA for the largest Fair Trade event in North American history!

The event will include seminars, workshops, site visits, discussions, social activities, and an exposition of 50+ Fair Trade vendors to educate and inspire about the holistic approach to business and poverty alleviation that Fair Trade provides.

For more information and to register, please visit the Conference Website: 
fairtradeconference.ning.com.

Posted By: Beth Provo @ 12:55:18 PM

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

US Social Forum this Summer in Detroit

In 2004, we met our co-op at the World Social Forum in Mumbai. It was a gathering of more than 100,000 people from around the world. This amazing synergy of the global grassroots community met under the theme "Another World is Possible".  This summer the grassroots community from around the US will come together in Detroit for the second U.S. Social Forum-Read more here.

Posted By: Beth Provo @ 9:36:23 PM

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Plan to Seek of Use of U.S. Contracts as a Wage Lever

February 26, 2010

Plan to Seek Use of U.S. Contracts as a Wage Lever


By STEVEN GREENHOUSE


The Obama administration is planning to use the governments enormous buying power to prod private companies to improve wages and benefits for millions of workers, according to White House officials and several interest groups briefed on the plan.

By altering how it awards $500 billion in contracts each year, the government would disqualify more companies with labor, environmental or other violations and give an edge to companies that offer better levels of pay, health coverage, pensions and other benefits, the officials said.

Because nearly one in four workers is employed by companies that have contracts with the federal government, administration officials see the plan as a way to shape social policy and lift more families into the middle class. It would affect contracts like those awarded to make Army uniforms, clean federal buildings and mow lawns at military bases.

Although the details are still being worked out, the outline of the plan is drawing fierce opposition from business groups and Republican lawmakers. They see it as a gift to organized labor and say it would drive up costs for the government in the face of a $1.3 trillion budget deficit.

Im suspicious of what the end goals are, said Ben Brubeck, director of labor and federal procurement for Associated Builders and Contractors, which represents 25,000 construction-related companies. Its pretty clear the agenda is to give big labor an advantage in federal contracts.

Critics also said the policy would put small businesses, many of which do not provide rich benefits, at a disadvantage. Furthermore, government officials would find it difficult to evaluate bidders using the new criteria and to determine whether one companys compensation package should give it an edge, said Alan L. Chvotkin, executive vice president of the Professional Services Council, a coalition of 340 government contractors.

From his earliest days in office, President Obama has called for an overhaul of government procurement policy, citing the contracting scandals of the previous decade involving cost overruns and no-bid contracts.

The president made it clear that he is committed to reforming government contracts to save taxpayers money while protecting workers and the environment, a White House spokesman, Bill Burton, said. The administration is currently gathering data and examining the best ways to do this.

Two of Mr. Obamas allies John Podesta, the Clinton administration chief of staff who headed the presidents transition team, and Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union have repeatedly pressed the president to use procurement policy to push up wages and benefits.

In testimony last year to the Office of Management and Budget, Mr. Podesta said that 400,000 workers employed under federal contracts like cafeteria workers, security guards and landscaping workers at federal buildings earn less than $22,000 a year, the federal poverty line for a family of four, assuming just one paycheck in a household.

We have a president who is talking about bringing more people into the middle class, Mr. Stern said. The government should expect contractors to obey the law, and at the same time contractors should not be building a poverty economy, but should be trying to build a high-road economy.

The officials briefed on the plan said it was being developed by officials in the Office of Management and Budget, the White House Office of Legal Counsel, the Treasury, Justice and Labor Departments and the vice presidents Middle Class Task Force.

Even as business groups press the administration for more details, they are denouncing the plan, tentatively named the High Road Procurement Policy.

The Daily Caller, a conservative Web site, reported Feb. 4 that the plan would heavily favor government contractors that implement policies designed by organized labor.

Randel K. Johnson, senior vice president for labor at the United States Chamber of Commerce, called the plan a warmed-over version of President Bill Clintons regulations that sought to bar federal agencies from awarding contracts to companies with a record of breaking labor, environmental or consumer laws. President George W. Bush vacated those regulations soon after taking office.

We strongly opposed the Clinton blacklist regulations, Mr. Johnson said, and this appears worse than that.

On Feb. 2, Senator Susan Collins of Maine and four other Republican senators sent a letter to Peter R. Orszag, director of the White House budget office, saying, We are concerned that the imposition of these requirements, during a time of significant economic turmoil in the private sector and tight federal budgets, could have serious, negative consequences, especially for our nations small businesses.

One signer was Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, who was one of the two main sponsors the other was Senator Barack Obama of a bill that sought to increase the transparency and accountability of federal contracting by requiring the government to create a data base of all federal contracts. President Bush signed it into law in 2007.

David Madland, director of the American Workers Project at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research group founded by Mr. Podesta, argues the new policy could lower government costs, instead of raising them.

Many low-wage employees of federal contractors receive Medicaid and food stamps, he said. Citing studies conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and by academic researchers, he said that contractors that pay their employees well have greater productivity and reliability, while contractors with a record of labor law violations do shoddier construction work.

This policy is good for workers, its good for taxpayers and its good for high-road businesses, Mr. Madland said.

He said that one study done by the state of Maryland found that after the state began requiring bidders to pay a living wage, the number of bidders per contract rose by a third on average. Some higher-wage companies said they began seeking government bids because the new policy leveled the playing field.

One federal official said the proposed policy would encourage procurement officers to favor companies with better compensation packages only if choosing them did not add substantially to contract costs. As an example, he said, if two companies each bid $10 million for a contract, and one had considerably better wages and pensions than the other, that company would be favored.

Some supporters of the new procurement policy and even some opponents say Mr. Obama could impose it through executive order. They assert that the president has broad powers to issue procurement regulations, just as President John Kennedy did in requiring federal contractors to have companywide equal employment opportunity plans.

But some opponents argue that legislation would be needed because an executive order may collide with laws that require federal contractors to pay the prevailing regional wage for the type of work being done. The executive order, they fear, would call for higher wages.

 

 



http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/26/business/26procure.html?hp

Posted By: Beth Provo @ 8:02:30 PM

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