Musicians Unite Against Sweatshops

by CounterPunch Wire

The anti-sweatshop movement is taking on the multi-billion dollar music merchandizing business with a new initiative that is being launched at the 2003 Glastonbury Festival in the UK. Spearheaded by folk rock legend Billy Bragg, No Sweat Apparel (US) and Ethical Threads (UK), Musicians Against Sweatshops is calling on all musicians of conscience to take a stand.

"Its time for activist musicians to step up and put things right with their own merchandising," said Bragg, "We cannot make the case for a better world while tacitly supporting exploitation."

Musicians who sign on to the fledgling organization will agree to source their merchandize from union shops or worker owned cooperatives as soon as their pre-existing contract obligations expire. A supporting web site is launching this fall to promote MASS, sell sweat free merchandize and provide free downloads to the fans. The new site will serve as the hub of a virtual mall where union shops, cooperatives and affiliated designers can make their threads available to a new generation of consumers.

"The kids all know this is a problem," said Geoff Martin of Ethical Threads, the distributor of rock & roll T-shirts produced by cooperatives in the developing world. "What they don’t know yet is that there is an alternative.

Today, the music merchandizing business is much bigger than T-shirts. With hot young stars like Eminem (Slim Shady) and Puff Daddy (Sean Combs) launching wildly successful clothing lines, rock stars have largely replaced the role of young designers at the cutting edge of the fashion business.

"The fashion industry listens to the youth and the youth listens to the music," said No Sweat founder Adam Neiman. " Musicians Against Sweatshops has the potential to make the global garment industry face the music."

MASS is enlisting indie bands as well as established acts to be part of the launch on June 27, at the massive Glastonbury Festival, the UK equivalent of a yearly Woodstock. All interested parties are encouraged to contact the organization at info@NoSweatApparel.com.


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