By Elizabeth Gardner, NCL public policy intern
It didn’t make much of a blip on the national news radar, but Maggie’s Organics recently broke new ground with their Fair Labor Certified Apparel Line. From the growers of the cotton to the spinners, knitters, dyers, cutters, sewers, screen-printers, and warehouse workers, this Michigan-based company’s spring apparel line is independently certified to hold to fair labor standards.
This label is one of the first of its kind in the clothing industry. Florence Kelley and the National Consumers League actually pioneered a White Label for cotton underwear way back in 1899. It certified that factories bearing the label treated their employees fairly. And nowadays there’s the Good Weave label, which assures rug buyers that they’re purchasing a child-labor free product. Today, though, there’s really been no simple way for consumers to check whether their clothes are tainted by child labor or exploitative labor practices—until now. It may only be a first step, but this new fair labor line is something that concerned consumers can be excited about.
The certification for Maggie’s Organics was completed by Scientific Certification Systems, and it verifies that at “every point in the supply chain” “fair and equitable labor practices” were used. With evidence far too often surfacing that major clothes retailers use child labor or sweatshops in their production lines, this label is a valuable resource for those of us who want to make sure that what we put on our backs didn’t cost workers before us the shirts off their backs.
Looking at the big picture, Maggie’s Organics is a small company. This label is solid start for businesses though, and if the other brands who have called up Maggie’s to find out about the process follow through and become certified, we’ll be making sure strides. Alongside FREE2WORK, which grades companies for their labor standards and is a great shopping resource, consumers can hopefully expect to see more resources like this continue to crop up.