Multinational Monitor

JUN 2001
VOL 22 No. 6


Power Struggle: California’s Engineered Energy Crisis and the Potential of Public Power
by Harvey Wasserman

Hurwitz’s Power Grab
by Jim Valette

Attorneys General for Sale?
by Andrew Wheat


On Tax Cuts, Loopholes and Avoidance: Working for Tax Justice
an interview with
Robert McIntyre


Behind the Lines

Fossil Fools

The Front
The Taste of the U.S.A. - Whose Land Reform?

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


Behind the Lines

Booze for Kids

Consumer groups say alcohol producers are luring younger drinkers with sweet, fruit-flavored drinks whose bright, colorful packaging more closely resembles non-alcoholic fruit drinks — popular with teens — than other alcoholic beverages.

A poll conducted for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) shows that “alcopop” beverages appeal more to teenagers than to adults and that teens are more likely to consume them. Forty-one percent of 600 teenagers aged 14 to 18 surveyed have tried an “alcopop.”

“These ‘alcopop’ drinks can have serious implications for America’s youth and for alcohol-related problems throughout society,” says CSPI’s George Hacker.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, young people who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times as likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who wait until age 21 to start.

Along with the American Medical Association and the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA), CSPI has petitioned the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to revoke previously approved labels for several “alcopop” drinks, including Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Rick’s Spiked Lemonade, Doc Otis’ Hard Lemonade and Hooper’s Hooch. The groups called for an investigation into whether labeling and marketing of the fruit-flavored alcoholic beverages could be construed as unfair marketing practices under federal law.

“Underage drinking is a societal and family issue — not an advertising issue,” Lori Levy of the Beer Institute says. “Exposure to beer advertising by those under the legal drinking age has nothing to do with what can help them make decisions about not drinking alcoholic beverages.”

Hoop Nightmares

Salvadoran maquila factory workers are paid just 29 cents for jerseys that retail for $140 at stores selling National Basketball Association (NBA) clothing in the United States, according to a U.S. Agency for International Development-funded investigation uncovered by the National Labor Committee, a New York-based labor rights group.

The investigation was carried out last year by a special unit of the Salvadoran labor ministry in response to growing concerns about working conditions in the Salvadoran free trade zone. The report was suppressed when factory owners objected to its release.

The investigators found a pattern of abusive working conditions at 229 factories, including below-subsistence wages (leaving families mired in “abject poverty”), forced overtime, excessively high production goals and complete denial of any right to form a union, among other conditions.

At the Hermosa Factory in Apopa, El Salvador, 600 workers make Nike clothing for the NBA. The workers are paid just 29 cents for copies of Shaquille O’Neal’s Lakers jersey, which retails at U.S. stores for $140.

When rush orders come in, the workers are forced to work 19 1/2 hour shifts, after which they sleep on the factory floor under their sewing machines, only to begin again early the next morning.

“I think many of the NBA players would be really shocked and disgusted to know that their names are on jerseys made by women who are paid pennies per hour, forced to drink filthy drinking water, work in 100 degree temperatures and who have to raise their children in broken-down hovels,” says Charles Kernaghan, the National Labor Committee’s executive director.

No to Prison Food

Following a student-led pressure campaign, American University announced in April that it would drop Sodexho Marriott as a long-term food services contractor. In announcing the decision, AU’s vice president of finance cited “social responsibility” as a motivating factor.

American University joins a growing list of colleges which have dropped or denied contracts to Sodexho Marriott because of the company’s ties to the nation’s largest private prison corporation, the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA). Other such colleges include State University of New York (Albany), Goucher College (Maryland), James Madison (Virginia), Oberlin College (Ohio), Evergreen State College (Washington State) and DePaul University (Illinois).

Activists say private prison systems run by CCA and other companies are notorious for their poor management.

“While there are very serious problems in public prisons, there are additional concerns about the management of private prisons,” says Kevin Pranis of the Prison Moratorium Project.

“Private prison companies have also distorted criminal justice policy. Through groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, they have pushed tough-on-crime and prison privatization laws to expand the number of private prisons.”
Student activists across the United States have waged campaigns to kick Sodexho Marriott off campus for two years. While many students have raised their concerns about the company through campus contract review committees, some have resorted to sit-ins and other protests.

“There have been many misrepresentations about Sodexho’s role in the corrections industry,” Pierre Bellon, Sodexho’s CEO, wrote to University of Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds in May. “We are committed to divesting from CCA and we are committed to our continued efforts to improve prison conditions wherever we provide service.”

— Charlie Cray


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