Sweat-Free Ts is inspired by our biblical faith and call to discipleship — as well as growing consumer demand within the modern-day garment industry for responsibly sourced products. “Clean clothes” and anti-sweatshop campaigns have also helped shape our work. Advocates in many places are encouraging manufacturers to produce goods in ways that respect the dignity, safety and rights of workers. There are many ways concerned Presbyterians can support our sisters and brothers in Christ who work hard on the production end of the garment chain.
Since all of our actions — including our consumer purchases — reflect our faith and values, each purchase we make supports either the sweatshop industry or the growing number of innovative companies and cooperatives that abstain from sweatshop labor and have committed themselves to sweat-free values. Purchasing garments from responsible manufacturers, companies and cooperatives not only sends the message that we support their principles — it reflects our faith in a God and who promises that a better world is possible.
Our primary partner
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s primary partner in Sweat-Free Ts is the women’s sewing cooperative (Fair Trade Zone) in Nueva Vida, Nicaragua. These women (and a few men) are significant pioneers and sources of inspiration within the movement for alternatives to sweatshops. Our partnership and individual purchases help build on the support the co-op received previously through One Great Hour of Sharing and the Presbyterian Hunger Program. The PC(USA) Sweat-Free T program warehouses and distributes their T-shirts for use in the PC(USA) — whether it be in a congregation, camp, youth group or conference. (To date Presbyterians have purchased more than 95,000 T-shirts!)
The PC(USA) also provides opportunities for Presbyterians and co-op members to meet face-to-face and develop relationships. Twice the Presbyterian Hunger Program has supported co-op leaders’ travel to the United States on speaking tours to local congregations and special events. The Presbyterian Hunger Program also sponsors delegations to Nicaragua so that Presbyterians can experience the cooperative (and fair trade coffee cooperatives) firsthand and bring their stories home.
The following are examples of sweat-free principles:
- Workers receive a fair living wage and benefits.
- Working conditions are just, including:
- Freedom from excessive working hours and forced labor in all its forms.
- Freedom from physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
- Protection from workplace health and safety hazards.
- Children are not subject to working conditions that jeopardize their physical, psychological, or intellectual development.
- Women are neither discriminated against nor harassed.
- All workers are free to organize and negotiate collective bargaining agreements.
The Nueva Vida sewing cooperative not only meets but surpasses Sweat-Free principles because the members of the cooperative own the business themselves, and as such are worker-owners, setting their own policies and procedures, and defining their own goals and plans for the future of their business and their lives.