By Alan Zibel
Ivanka Trump talks a lot about her vision of women’s empowerment.
Unfortunately, she ignores the plight of workers who make the clothing marketed under her name.
That’s why more than 20 groups, led by Public Citizen, the International Labor Rights Forum and China Labor Watch, have sent a letter (PDF) to Ivanka Trump demanding she raise labor standards for the mainly female workers who produce her Ivanka Trump product line. The groups also released a video (see above) highlighting the contrast between Ivanka Trump’s words and the conditions in her brand’s factories.
The letter and video are being circulated a day before Ivanka Trump is scheduled to speak in Japan at the women’s empowerment symposium before President Donald Trump’s trip to countries including China, where the bulk of Ivanka Trump-branded handbags, shoes and clothes are manufactured.
The video juxtaposes words from Ivanka Trump’s book, “Women Who Work,” with reports of abysmal labor conditions at her company’s overseas suppliers’ facilities.
This spring, investigators from China Labor Watch found grave abuses at two factories that make Ivanka Trump-branded shoes in China. The investigators were then detained for a month on criminal charges of using illegal surveillance equipment (e.g., mobile phones and cameras for recording images and footage to document illegal practices) before being released on bail pending trial.
In addition, several media reports this year, including a comprehensive Washington Post investigation, have highlighted allegations of abusive treatment of the women who work at footwear and garment factories in China and Indonesia to make apparel and shoes bearing Ivanka Trump’s brand. The workers have faced verbal and physical abuse as well as 15-hour work days and wage deductions.
“The Trump administration claims to have made buying American-made products and hiring American workers a core tenet,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. “It is the essence of hypocrisy that Ivanka Trump-branded clothes and footwear are produced in China and other overseas locations, often under abusive conditions. Most shameful is that labor rights investigators still face the threat of prosecution for investigating conditions for workers making Ivanka Trump-branded products. It’s past time for Ivanka Trump to stand up for their freedom.”
“If Ivanka truly wants her legacy to include protecting working women, she needs to start with the women in her supply chain,” said Judy Gearhart, executive director of the International Labor Rights Forum. “Enthusiastic statements about empowerment are not needed. Transparency, worker-driven monitoring and decent working conditions are essential.”
“After finding labor rights violations at factories in China earlier this year, China Labor Watch sent letters to Ms. Trump in hopes that she would help improve the working conditions at her brand’s suppliers,” said Li Qiang, founder and executive director of China Labor Watch. “It is her responsibility to ensure that assembly line workers producing for her brand are not abused, and to identify and compensate those whose rights are violated while producing for her brand. To date, we have not received any response from either Ms. Trump or her company.”