Saying Goodbye to the Founding Advocates of Workers’ Rights
Yesterday afternoon, an email was sent on behalf of Barbara Briggs, the Associate Director of the Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights, as a final goodbye on behalf of the organization, which closed its doors in June 2017.
Founded in 1981 as the National Labor Committee, the organization was a pillar of the workers’ rights movement in the United States and across the globe for nearly three decades. During that time, the IGLHR led countless campaigns exposing the conditions of workers abroad and was ultimately recognized for creating the anti-sweatshop campaign that sparked international debate within the apparel industry.
As an undergraduate, I had the great opportunity to intern at the organization, and I feel indebted to the leadership and vision of Barbara and Director, Charles Kernaghan. During my time at the IGLHR I witnessed a small, yet mighty, operation with a handful of employees and volunteers in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East remain steadfast in their commitment to advocate on behalf of workers despite the many challenges that they faced: international regulations, powerful corporations, limited funding, and the capacity to hear and be witness to human suffering. Charles and his team were at the forefront of changes taking place as globalization altered the way we produce and consume goods, and I, like so many others, commend their years of service.
It feels as if the apparel industry has changed as much the last 5 years as it did the last 30 years. There is a greater degree of awareness for labor conditions abroad, but there is still so much that needs to be done. If you find yourself here, I encourage you to take a look at the work of the IGHLR throughout the years and recognize that its work and mission are as important as ever.