MAILED: Oct. 11, 2001
EAU CLAIRE — Labor rights
activist Charles Kernaghan will speak about “The Fight to End Sweatshops and
Child Labor: Students in the Forefront” Wednesday, Oct. 24, at the University
of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
His presentation, part of The Forum lecture series, will
begin at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena and will be followed by a question-and-answer
session and a reception.
Kernaghan is executive director of the National Labor
Committee, an independent non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and
defending human and worker rights in the global economy. The group exposes
abuses committed by U.S. companies producing goods in poor countries and
organizes campaigns to put an end to the abuses.
Under Kernaghan’s directorship the NLC has placed the
issue of sweatshop abuses and child labor squarely on the national agenda by
exposing such atrocities as Chinese workers putting in 60-hour to 96-hour weeks
for wages between 12.5 and 28 cents an hour, at factories producing clothing for
Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne, Wal-Mart and others. NLC fact-finding missions,
including delegations of U.S. university students, also have documented labor
conditions and abuses in factories in Central America, Haiti, Bangladesh,
Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
In the last few years the NLC has helped bring massive
media coverage to labor and worker rights issues; established the only existing
models of true independent monitoring of factories by human rights groups in
Central America; served as a clearing house on labor research and popular
campaigns; and built local, regional and national coalitions that have grown
into one of the best social justice networks in the country.
The NLC especially focuses on the working conditions of
young women working in Central America, the Caribbean, China and other
developing countries who assemble garments, shoes, toys and other products for
export to the United States. One recent campaign turned the spotlight on
Kohl’s Department Stores, a major Wisconsin-based U.S. retailer whose clothing
production was sourced to Taiwanese-owned sweatshops in Nicaragua and El
Director of the NLC since 1990, Charles Kernaghan has run
many successful public education campaigns about what consumer, religious,
student and labor groups can do to bring pressure on multinational corporations
that utilize child labor and violate workers’ rights. He became involved in
the struggle to defend international labor rights after participating in a peace
march through Central America in 1985.
Formerly on the faculty of Duquesne University in
Pittsburgh and SUNY’s Harry Van Arsdale Labor College in New York City,
Kernaghan has worked as a photographer, furniture mover, carpenter and shop
steward (Carpenters Union Local 608), and cab driver.
Admission is $7 for the public, $5 for those age 62 and
over and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, or $3
for those age 17 and under and UW System or CVTC students. Tickets are available
at the University Service Center in Davies Center and will be sold at the door.
Patrons also may charge their tickets to MasterCard or
Visa when they order by phone. Call the University Service Center, (715)
836-3727 — or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free (800)
949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.
The Forum is made possible by student funds allocated by
the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate.
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Oct. 11, 2001