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      Tuesday
      May062014

      A Global Living Wage

      Chinese anti-sweatshop activists plaster Nike store with "blood and sweat" leaflets in Hong Kong on International Labour Day. (Photo: Reuters, May 1, 2014)If President Obama wants to "pivot" to Asia, labor, human rights and anti-sweatshop activists should insist that he condemn the virtual slavery in which workers survive in China, India and smaller nations in that region. Apple, Nike, Wal-Mart, Gap and other multinationals profit from sweatshop labor to manufacture everything from cell phones to pom-poms to students and consumers here.

      If Obama can order a $10 minimum wage for US government workers, he can order living wage conditions be attached to federal procurement policies overseas.

      A US foreign policy based on aircraft carriers and drones protecting cheap labor zones cannot be sustained. Demands for "democracy promotion" that avoid workers' rights are hollow. Secretive "free trade" proposals mock democracy by a corporate race to the bottom.

      The purchasing power of our federal and state governments can be a powerful tool for lessening inequality and bargaining for defenseless workers.

      Here are some suggestions from Bob Ross, longtime author, professor and expert on international labor policies:

       

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