July 11, 2007 marks one year since the Pirates Baseball Club hosted the All Star Game and promised the people of Pittsburgh that they would investigate working conditions in the factories sewing Pirates’ apparel. As the Pittsburgh General Membership Branch of the IWW reminds the Pirates at their July 8 game at PNC Park against the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh has high standards for workers’ rights. The City’s Sports and Exhibition Authority has recommended the investigatory protocols of the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), disclosure of wages and factory locations, truly independent investigations, and a commitment to the factories where investigations take place.
The International Solidarity Commission of the Industrial Workers of the World stands alongside the Pittsburgh Anti Sweatshop Community Alliance and SweatFree Communities in requesting that all unions and solidarity organizations support workers sewing their Major League Baseball (MLB) teams’ apparel by holding their Home Teams – rather than MLB -- accountable for workers’ rights. MLB is amongst the largest licensers of copyrighted logos in the world. If MLB had any sincere concern workers rights, it would already be following WRC protocols, and previous investigations would have been more substantial than the public-relations-white-washes workers have experienced thus far. The Home Teams represent the people in their respective cities, and it is the Home Teams that will be held accountable for the working conditions in factories sewing team apparel.
It is up to each community to hold its Home Team accountable for sweatshop conditions in factories sewing team apparel. The ISC extends greetings of solidarity to all workers sewing baseball merchandise. The ISC will receive testimony from workers sewing apparel with any of the team logos and distribute that testimony to unions and solidarity organizations for presentation to their respective baseball teams. To that end, the ISC wants to familiarize workers with the MLB logo that appears on all licensed merchandise.
The National Garment Workers Federation of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity have already provided specific testimony about the factories in which their members work sewing Pirates/Major League Baseball apparel. One year after the Pittsburgh Pirates promised to investigate working conditions, the team has dropped the ball, which makes the occasion of the 2007 All Star Game a sad day for the people of Pittsburgh.
At the pinnacle of the baseball season, when all eyes are focused on San Francisco, the ISC urges baseball fans, unions and solidarity organizations to leverage each team’s efforts to represent them and hit a home run for workers rights. By community collective bargaining with the Home Teams, we can set a new standard for accountability in the global apparel industry.
The ISC invites unions and solidarity organizations to join us in Chicago on Labor Day weekend for a SweatFree Baseball strategy session. We invite union activists to draw on the ISC as a resource when preparing apparel industry solidarity trips to Latin America and the Caribbean.
IWW SweatFree Baseball link (for information on New Era and Majestic) www.SweatFree.org/Baseball