Nike boasts of empowering women, but its garment workers tell a different story. Can you imagine the irony of sowing Equality on a shirt for a brand which is complicit in the firing of pregnant women? Wage theft? Mass faintings? Union-busting? While Nike markets themselves as champions of women’s equality, the abuses behind their factory doors expose that the only thing they champion is their own bottom line.
Since its passage in 2010, human rights advocates have wondered whether they could use the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (CTSCA) to litigate against companies that use forced labor abroad. Hailed as ushering in a new era of legal corporate accountability, the CTSCA obligates any large company doing business in California to publicly disclose its efforts to eradicate forced labor and human trafficking in its supply chain. Here, we take a closer look at the CTSCA and how it has been used to date, and investigate whether a creative litigator could use it to benefit any of the estimated 21 million forced laborers around the world.
I’ve been toying with the idea of whether Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals could be used for anything but evil. Rather than repeat the many, many detailed and well-researched critiques of ISDS, this post is about whether ISDS could be used to benefit the public, rather than just expand corporate power.
I see two ways to approach this: (1) by redefining who could be a “foreign investor”, and (2) by exploring human rights counter-claims brought by governments.
It was reported today, on May Day no less, that a woman in Arizona found a note from a Chinese prison laborer in a purse she bought from Wal-Mart. Convict labor-produced goods have been making it into American (2) and European markets for years, and these notes are one of the few ways it has been uncovered. Considering that the U.S. has an unambiguous law prohibiting the importation of goods produced with forced, convict, and child labor, why is this still happening?
One of the reasons I find Corporate Accountability Lab (CAL) so exciting is that it creates a space from which we can design and test interdisciplinary, praxis-driven experiments to stop corporate abuse. As we collectively struggle to properly diagnose the structural failures that have led to the current crisis of corporate impunity, I’m trying to work out whether or not it would be fair to understand corporate accountability in our justice system today as a club good, as opposed to a public good. If we can fairly characterize corporate accountability--holding corporations legally accountable for harms they’ve committed--as a club good, we can better expose the structural faults we collectively seek to repair.
Human rights and labor advocates often raise the possibility of using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (18 USC § 1962) (“RICO”) to sue companies who violate human rights overseas. At first glance, this seems like a great fit. The Act provides both civil and criminal liability for individuals and organizations, including corporations, engaging in a pattern of certain criminal acts (including murder, extortion, bribery and other crimes) that are often involved in human rights abuse cases. So why can’t foreign victims of torture, murder or crimes against humanity at the hands of U.S. companies operating abroad bring RICO suits for damages?