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Wetlands Works Newsletter August 2000
Summertime! We've had a great group of interns this summer, and together we've gotten some great work done! We'll miss all our summer interns, but look forward to seeing all their future accomplishments. For information on internship opportunities in the fall, call us here at Wetlands!
Activists Unfurl Banner In Protest of Worker and Environmental Exploitation
Two non-violent protesters were arrested June 26 after hanging a banner in protest of sweatshop labor and forest destruction. Citing worker mistreatment in garment factories and destructive logging of redwood forests, the activists draped a 350 square foot banner over the screen of the Bryant Park Film Series being sponsored by Banana Republic which read "Banana Republic: Stop Exploiting Workers and Forests!" The banner unfurled in front of thousands of spectators who awaited the evening's film.
The two activists, Adam Weissman, 22, and Matt Feinstein, 19, were physically removed from the top of the screen, arrested, and held overnight on eight counts of felony Reckless Endangerment among other charges. The protesters were released the next day on five hundred dollars bail each, and returned to court on June 30th where all criminal charges were dropped in exchange for a plea to one count of Disorderly Conduct and three days of community service. "These bogus felony charges were politically motivated, intended only to deter protesters, and there is no way they would hold up in court," said Cindy Rosin of the Activism Center at Wetlands Preserve.
The banner hang took place during a week of action called by the human rights organization Global Exchange in response to a massive workers' strike in Cambodia, which ended unsuccessfully earlier this month. Activists believe that negotiations between these garment workers and their employers could continue if consumers continue to pressure those that buy from the factories-- many of which are U.S. corporations like Gap, Inc.
Protestors also object to Gap Inc.'s use of sweatshops in Saipan, a U.S. territory where the company escapes trade tariff laws for imports by producing within the legal boundaries of the U.S, but ignores US minimum wage and labor laws. The Fisher family, who owns Gap Inc., is also the major owner of Mendocin endangered and fragile redwood forests in Mendocino County, California. Their logging is destroying habitat for endangered species and other wildlife in some of the world's remaining redwood forests.
According to Allison Barra of the Activism Center at Wetlands Preserve "The Gap needs to hear from their customers that workers deserve fair wages and work conditions, and that ancient redwood forests need to be protected, not logged."
Rhythm Demo Rocks Old Navy, GAP, and Banana Republic
As part of the ongoing campaign against Gap, Inc. activists from Wetlands and SCALE (Student Committee Against Labor Exploitation) held a rhythm demonstration on June 8th that started at a downtown Old Navy. The group stayed at this first site for an hour before marching to the Gap store located one block away. After demonstrating outside of this location for another hour, the protesters continued the march to nearby Banana Republic stores.
The "rhythm" part of this demonstration helped to keep a presence and
a constant buzz of noise outside each store. The banging on plastic
buckets and shaking of water bottles filled with rocks was accompanied
by chanting. This noisy parade creatively protested all three stores
owned by labor and environmental exploiter Gap, Inc.
Protesters Leaflet Kohl's To Build Support for Nicaraguan Workers
New Jersey and New York activists held their second leafleting in one month at the Kohl's store in Paramus, NJ on Saturday, June 17 as part of a national effort to build support for unionized workers in Nicaraguan clothing factories. More than 130 shoppers signed leaflets asking Kohl's to use its influence on the Mil Colores plant, where some Kohl's labels are produced, to reverse the firing of 200 unionized workers and to drop criminal charges against 68 workers who had participated in a strike. A dozen or more shoppers took the signed leaflets inside to deliver to the manager, while 120 others left the signed requests with the activists to be mailed to the store. The leafleting was called by the locally based Global Sweatshop Coalition. Sixteen activists participated, including three from the Upper West Side-Tipitapa Sister City Project (many Mil Colores workers live in Tipitapa) and six from the Wetlands Environmental and Social Justice Activism Center. The turnout far exceeded the expectations of the organizers, who had called for the action a little more than week earlier.