Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sweatshop Impossible: Musings on Better Work's October 2011 conference on the business case for better working conditions in global value chains

The Workers, Businesses and Government: Understanding Labour Compliance in Global Supply Chains conference held at the International Finance Corporation's Pennsylvania Avenue offices from October 26-28, 2011 was primarily an exercise in translation of the languages spoken by anti-sweatshop activists, worker rights groups and the International Labor Organization (ILO) on the one hand and business, development economists and banking experts at the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) on the other.  The conference was part of the agenda of Better Work, a joint project of the ILO and the IFC started in 2007 to embed better working standards in the development projects financed by the IFC.  Better Work assists enterprises, worker advocate and governments in the implementation of improved working conditions in global value chains.  In the four years of its existence, Better Work has implemented projects in Cambodia, Haiti, Indonesia, Jordan, Lesotho, Nicaragua and Vietnam.  The underlying goal of the conference seems to have been to convince multi-national enterprises and other companies that there is a strong business case for improving working conditions in their global value chains.   

    The key to the inter-institutional and inter-ideology translation in the conference was in fact the presentation most incomprehensible to a good part of the audience.  While Subal Kumbhakar’s presentation “Does improvement in institutional quality help firm performance? Insights from a semiparametric approach” made most of the audience want to run frantically to the nearest community college for a refresher course in Calculus, he made his point clear with a pair of charts demonstrating that input data on the issue of whether labor standards improve or detract from productivity and profitability of factories - essentially casting doubt on the World Bank’s “Doing Business” Indicators which have been criticized for lowering countries’ investment friendliness scores based on higher labor standards.  Raymond Robertson of McAllister College and co-author of the paper “Measuring the Impact of Better Work” expanded on Kumbhakar’s point by analogizing human resources practices to technological advancements, noting that many of the factories in global supply chains utilize out-dated human resources and management technologies.  Assimilating modern human resources practices that incorporate respect for worker rights can actually make factories more competitive and profitable while improving worker rights.  The conversation brings to mind Robert Irvine’s show Restaurant Impossible on The Food Network.  Each week, Robert Irvine has two days and $10,000.00 to help transform a failing restaurant from bankruptcy into a profitable business.  In one show, Irvine spent an hour training a woman how to use a computer-based seating program - essentially using simple management training to professionalize the restaurant and eliminate the wait times for entering customers.  The problem, as evidenced in Verité’s 2009 report "Advancing Women’s Rights and Social Responsibility: Capacity Building in Mexico", is that it is not always easy to persuade factory owners and managers to participate in pilot projects and training programs to help improve their management practices.  Better Work adherents may have to follow the example of the Food Network and Sesame Workshop and invent a new TV series called “Sweatshop Impossible” in which Robert Irvine or an equally muscular management ace is able to transform a window-less unsafe textile sweatshop with fabric and cotton tufts floating around into a model factory - using a sledge hammer to break windows in the walls, rearranging all the work stations and taking managers through a harrowing and emotional crash course of tough love to eliminate abusive management practices, as Irvine did in one episode when he persuaded one restaurant owner to move the menagerie of chickens, goats and other barnyard pets to his home backyard and to let his French-trained chef son take charge of the kitchen instead of insisting on being in charge of every aspect of management and food production.

    One theme that permeated the conference was the importance of women to the Better Work agenda - not only as workers, but as untapped resources as managers, business owners and board members.  In her presentation of an extensive World Bank study Sewing Success  Gladys Lopez-Acevedo pointed out that the textile industry can be the entry point for women into the world’s formal economy and argued that countries need to develop policies to help those who are left behind by major events like the phase-out of the Multi Fibre Arrangement (MFA) in 2004 or the effects of the 2008 Financial Crisis.  Another of the gendered views of global supply chains was provided by Michelle Christian of Duke University, who in her presentation of the paper "A Gendered Tourism Global Value Chain: Economic Upgrading Lessons from Kenya" argued both that the global tourism industry (including hotels and tour operators) should be subject to a global value chain analysis similar to that applied in the textile, electronics and other manufacturing industries and that sexual harassment and violence must be addressed in global value chain actions, especially in the case of short-term, temporary and other contingent members of the workforce.  Christian emphasized the fact that women in contingent positions are more likely to be asked to provide sexual favors in exchange for jobs and job retention.  The notion of second-tier, third-tier, fourth-tier and even fifth-tier participants in global value chains was raised more than once in discussing the reach of programs such as Better Work.

    One of the other information highlights in the conference was the fact that there may be a global cocoa shortage by 2020 unless price and working conditions in cocoa farming - which can only occur in a narrow band of agricultural lands near the equator - improve so that young cocoa farmers are enticed to enter into or remain in cocoa farming - although the unintended beneficiaries of young male cocoa farmers migrating to cities for better opportunities are young women cocoa farmers who are afforded opportunities to move into cocoa farming.  Another surprising point was that factory owners and managers interviewed as part of Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead’s global assessment of wage practices along the supply chain in 2010-11 stated they often keep two or three sets of books as part of managing their manufacturing operations.  While the fact that a factory owner hoping to engage in business with multi-national enterprises might keep books to appear more compliant with corporate codes of conduct than the facts would otherwise indicate is not surprising, the fact that factory owners were forthcoming with this information is extremely surprising - and shows how complex and challenging the task of improving working conditions, competitiveness and productivity in global value chains can be - not to mention addressing the issues of non-payment, delayed payment and under-payment of wages to workers in the textile and apparel and other industries.

    In his presentation on creating an enabling environment for responsible labor practices, Richard Feinberg emphasized the importance of branding not only for companies, but for countries as well, pointing out that as early as the 1970s, Costa Rica branded itself as a “green tourism destination,” preserving nature parks to attract tourists and improve its economy.  Feinberg’s presentation echoed the presentation made by Annelies Goger on the export garment manufacturing industry in Sri Lanka, in which Goger noted that the Government of Sri Lanka made efforts to re-brand garment manufacturing (primarily ladies under-garments) within its borders so that working in garment factories would not be seen as an immoral activity for young Moslem Sri Lankan women, but rather as a path toward prosperity and respect within the factory and community.  Goger also noted that three Sri Lankan factories are among the first “green” factories in the world.  Sri Lanka, it appears, is experimenting with branding itself as a socially and environmentally sustainable source of goods in global value chains.  These efforts are hindered by the low number of unions in Sri Lanka and the issue of accountability for human rights abuses during Sri Lanka's recently-ended civil war, however.

    Another of Feinberg’s insights was that the “WoG” (Whole of Government”) approach needs to be applied to labor standards enforcement.  Many countries - Central American countries in the CAFTA-DR are primary examples - have labor departments that are highly understaffed and under-resourced.  The key is to engage all of a country’s government agencies to create an enabling environment for responsible labor practices.  This theme was echoed later by Adam Greene of USCIB, who pointed out that non-labor-based issues such as corruption, cronyism, general lack of governance and rule of law as well as informality (lack of registration of live births, for example, making it difficult to allocate social security benefits to people who are undocumented in their own countries) can affect a country’s investment climate as well as its capacity or incapacity to effectively enforce labor standards.  The WHOLE culture must be improved to improve labor practices.

    The outcomes and conclusions of the conference will be presented in Geneva, Switzerland on December 5.  The next stop for the Better Work program will probably be Bangladesh, which has a growing textile industry that is garnering a bigger and bigger share of global textile production and has been the center of a labor-led social movement for improved working conditions and minimum wage increases.  The long-term goals for Better Work include considering projects in industries other than textile and garment manufacturing (such as leather and shoe manufacturing or agriculture as recommended by U.S. Undersecretary for International Labor Affairs Sandra Polaski or electronics manufacturing as implied by Adam Greene), strengthening the “third leg” of the labor-employer-government stool as recommended by Cathy Feingold of the AFL-CIO to ensure that Freedom of Association is a fundamental key to accessing the world market and to continue to persuade international finance institutions like the World Bank to incorporate Better Work principles into their operations - as evidenced by remarks made by Martin Rama of the World Bank who announced that the World Bank’s World Development Report 2013 (to be published in 2012) will address jobs and job creation for the first time since 1995.  The speakers and participants concluded that manufacturers need more incentives to improve, buyers need to improve their practices and everybody must “combat the corrosiveness of casualness.”

Saturday, September 24, 2011

First labor arbitration on CAFTA-DR

Here is a link to my short piece published about the USTR's recent request for arbitration against the Government of Guatemala for violations of the labor provisions of the CAFTA-DR:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Labor market trends and working conditions in Washington, DC's electronic discovery industry

Labor Market Trends and Working Conditions in Washington DC’s Electronic Discovery Industry
by Tequila Brooks, Employment and Compliance Attorney and e-discovery specialist

Recent articles in The New York Times (John Markoff, “Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software,” March 4, 2011, available at The Wall Street Journal (Vanessa O’Connell, “New Work Rules for Temp Lawyers,” June 15, 2011, available at along with scenes of document review in John Grisham’s 2009 novel The Associate highlight the fact that electronic discovery is both a critical part of the modern legal practice and a modern trend in today’s legal labor market.  What does this mean for the legal profession?  It means documents.  Lots and lots of documents.  Hundreds, thousands and millions of emails, spreadsheets, memoranda, pleadings and powerpoint presentations.  Despite Markoff’s assertion that new e-discovery software programs are replacing lawyers, armies of attorneys and paralegals are still required to analyze, categorize, summarize, read and review for privilege the millions of documents uploaded and stored to e-discovery platforms as a routine part of modern litigation proceedings.  This isn’t going to change any time soon - though since the Financial Crisis the armies have gotten a little smaller.  With the potential for legal sanctions and damage to the client memorialized in The E-Discovery Journal (Greg Buckles, “McDermott Sued Over Outsourced Review,” June 10, 2011, available at, what self-respecting attorney or law firm would engage in an electronic production without having an attorney ensure that no privileged documents are being produced?  Computer software can do many things and can be a wonderful tool, but without a skilled user it is nothing more than that - a tool.  Moreover, new e-discovery software programs require attorneys who are versed not only in the law but in how to effectively utilize modern e-discovery technology.  While O’Connell’s article highlights some of the grimmer realities of the modern e-discovery labor market - especially in the wake of the recent economic meltdown - e-discovery can provide decent (and not-so-decent) jobs, “gap” jobs and, in rare cases, career options.  This note will discuss some of these jobs and career options - where to find them, what to expect and how these jobs can affect attorneys’ long-term career prospects.

    The e-discovery industry tends to center in large metropolitan areas - especially Washington, DC and New York - as well as on the west coast because of the high concentration of the tech industry (the Bay Area and Los Angeles) and in Houston and Dallas because of the high concentration of the oil and gas, energy and tech industries.  Smaller metropolitan areas are becoming more popular as e-discovery industry centers such as Charlotte, North Carolina both because of the concentration of the banking and financial services sectors and the lower wage rates that can be paid to attorneys and paralegals outside Washington, DC and New York.

    The primary driver of large electronic discovery projects is the federal government investigation.  Investigations by federal agencies like the Department of Justice (DOJ), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) often require the production of thousands and sometimes millions of electronic documents.  In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) utilizes electronic discovery in large class action litigation.  Intellectual property litigation is also a growth industry for those with a scientific and/or IP background.  While federal agencies hire attorneys and paralegals to work on electronic review projects, the bulk of employers for electronic discovery work are large law firms representing clients in government investigations.  These law firms contract for document review attorneys, paralegals and e-discovery specialists through a variety of legal employment agencies.

Like other temporary agencies, legal temporary agencies create a triangular employment relationship between the attorney, the agency and the law firm.  Generally, the attorney receives an hourly rate plus overtime for work over 40 hours, the agency charges the law firm about double what it pays the attorney and the law firm bills the client between $135-$250/hour for the attorney’s time depending on how savvy the client is when it comes to negotiating rates with its law firm for the use of contract attorneys on large- and small-scale e-discovery projects.  Rates in the DC area for DC-barred English language reviewers range between $30-$34/hour plus overtime and between $38-$42/hour for DC-barred foreign language reviewers.  Rare and in-demand languages such as Japanese, Korean and Chinese can garner as much as $50-$60/hour.  Rates for non-DC-barred attorneys tend to be lower, so it is a good idea to waive into the DC Bar as soon as you consider moving to the DC area.  The waiver process is not onerous, but it can take 6-12 months to complete.  Because the waiver process takes such a long time, “DC-pending” attorneys often receive rates that are close to or the same as those paid to DC-barred attorneys.

Before the economic crisis, rates for DC-barred English language reviewers had stagnated at $35-$38/hour and at $45/hour for foreign language reviewers.  It was rare for projects in the DC area to offer straight time (no overtime rate) but this practice was more frequent in New York.  After the economic meltdown of September 2008 and during the crisis, more DC agencies offered projects which required overtime hours but did not offer overtime pay.  A few agencies offer DC-barred attorneys $26 or even $22/hour.  These practices (no overtime and rock bottom hourly rates) became rarer in mid-2011 as the economy recovered, merger and acquisition activity increased and as thousands of lawyers laid off from large law firms in major metropolitan areas in the 2008-2010 period were absorbed into the legal labor market, decreasing the competition for the smaller number of e-discovery jobs that were available after September 2008..

E-discovery projects tend to be big hours projects.  Many projects require at least 10 hours of overtime a week and some high-volume, fast-paced short-term projects (such as Second Requests) keep work spaces open so that attorneys may bill up to 80-90 hours/week - though attorneys on those projects can work less overtime (60 hours/week - six 10 hour days or five 12 hour days)  or make an arrangement with their agent for reduced hours (40-50 hours/week) due to family, educational or other responsibilities.  While the number of hours may appear to be onerous, they are often worked in a group environment where attorneys achieve a certain level of camaraderie with other attorneys so it isn’t as bad as it might seem.  Another advantage of high overtime projects is the possibility of earning a lot of money quickly to achieve personal goals like paying off student loans or saving up for a down payment on a house.  Since the economic meltdown, agencies frequently offer projects that allow for 40-hour weeks.  Many attorneys in the DC area do not prefer these projects because they don’t allow them to achieve financial goals, especially in the wake of the lower rates offered during the crisis period - though shorter hour projects do allow for more outside activities like searching for a full-time job.

Electronic discovery and document review projects involve a variety of areas of law.  For example, since the DOJ has such a wide subject matter jurisdiction, projects resulting from DOJ investigations range from Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations to routine “Second Request” reviews in company mergers.  Whenever two or more companies enter into a merger deal, the DOJ requests documents to help it determine whether the merger will negatively impact competition and consumers.  In the wake of the financial crisis, financial regulators such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the SEC conducted widespread investigations of financial malfeasance leading up to and in the aftermath of the crisis, along with the SEC’s steady diet of insider trading, back-dated stock option and other securities-related investigations.

Working in the e-discovery field has a number of advantages and disadvantages.  Some of the advantages include being afforded the opportunity to break into the legal field in a new city relatively quickly, using the wage structure to achieve personal and professional goals like paying off student loans or financing further study or travel, meeting new people, being exposed to the e-discovery aspects of large government investigations or litigation and being exposed to new areas of law.  In many ways, working as a contract attorney is like job dating.  Some of the dates are great, some of them not so great, some terrible - but all critical to your development.  Some of the disadvantages are the potential for career stagnation, the rarity of opportunities for advancement and lack of job security (projects can end with less than a couple hours of notice).  The key to effectively navigating the field if you enter on purpose or otherwise is approaching your time as a contract attorney strategically to maximize the advantages and minimize the disadvantages.

Attorneys enter the e-discovery industry for a variety of reasons.  These include moving to a new city, leaving or losing a job, waiting for a federal job application to finalize or a security clearance process to be completed, re-entering the job market after time away (for example, to raise children) or the desire to achieve short- or long-term financial goals in order to pursue other opportunities - like taking a job in the public interest or non-profit sector or opening a plaintiff’s law office or solo practice.  I have met a surprising number of human rights advocates working in the e-discovery industry who conduct human rights advocacy or work on development projects between e-discovery projects.  I have also met young attorneys who worked 60-90 hour weeks and lived on ramen for a few years to pay down or pay off their student loans in order to transition into a lower-paid public interest career like the Foreign Service or the DC Employment Justice Center - not to mention former litigators who just wanted a break from the stress of litigating and running a law practice and retired attorneys who were tired of being at home all the time.

Whatever your reasons for entering or wanting to enter the e-discovery industry, it is a good idea to maintain focus on your goals.  The heavy hours can discourage attorneys from seeking and applying for other jobs.  Don’t let that happen.  Some attorneys fall into the competitive streak of wanting to bill as many hours as possible.  At a certain point, however, billing more than 67 hours/week has diminishing financial returns because of the income tax consequences - not to mention the deleterious effects on your health.  I once had a friend remark that DC is a wonderful place to be unemployed because of all the organizations, seminars and educational and networking opportunities the city has to offer.  Take those few hours off a week to attend networking events and do pro bono work.  Make sure you are pursuing your dream while you work in the e-discovery industry.

Success in the e-discovery field and finding those rare opportunities for advancement depends on the same habits and qualities that guarantee success in any job.  Have a good work ethic, pay attention to detail, listen to and follow instructions, exercise some emotional judgment in your dealings with other attorneys and professionals (don’t gossip or get involved with petty office drama) and, platitudes and clichés aside, have a good attitude.  Take each e-discovery project as a learning opportunity.  Research the e-discovery platform you are using and try to study or master some of the advanced search and other capabilities of the platform.  Take some time at work (if you are allowed internet access) or at home to research the case, the area of law and the agencies and entities involved in the case.  A few pieces of equipment are also critical to your survival in the e-discovery field.  Absolutely critical?  Headphones.  While many of the attorneys on e-discovery projects are some of the most interesting people you may come across in your life, others can be difficult to deal with.  Either way, it is not easy to sit with people for 10, 11, 12 or 14 hours straight for several days in a row without getting to know them a little too well.  Your headphones may afford the only privacy you’ll have at some points of the day.    A smart phone with internet access is also key, especially on projects where internet access is prohibited or limited.  And your constant companion?  The Posse List, where you can learn about recent e-discovery trends, new software, training opportunities and conferences as well as jobs and projects (  The best “in” to the field, however, is a referral from an attorney trusted and known to some of the agencies who can fill you in on the characteristics of different agencies and firms.

What does success in the e-discovery industry mean?  At its most basic, it means making contacts in the legal field and earning some money while you seek other employment.  Success in e-discovery may be learning all you can about e-discovery, achieving financial goals and moving into a legal in your field of interest or open a law practice.  On the other hand, It can mean longevity on a project.  Successful contract and project attorneys often remain on a project after the official end to conduct further privilege review, draft privilege logs or to be “rolled over” onto other projects by the firm or agency.  It doesn’t happen on all projects and it may not happen on every project for you, but take the decision with grace.  It also means additional opportunities to master advanced e-discovery tasks and to witness and participate in the final stages of a large electronic document production.  In rare cases, it can lead to promotion to a Staff Attorney or Discovery Attorney position in a large law firm, which affords some economic and professional stability and the opportunity to work on more interesting cases.  Unfortunately, during the economic crisis staff attorneys were often the first to be let go by large law firms, and hiring has not yet picked up.  Many associates and some partners were also let go from large firms in major metropolitan areas so not all attorneys were immune.  Another disadvantage of the staff attorney position is that most of the large law firms that can afford to have technical/legal/e-discovery expert positions at the staff attorney level offer no additional form of advancement to the associate or partner level.  In most cases, if you want to use the e-discovery path to get your foot in the door of an employer, you may want to seek out smaller firms or employment agencies that make placements with the government.  The strict hierarchy of large DC and New York law firms makes upward mobility almost impossible in those firms.  If you work on a project for a smaller firm or a government agency, however, you may be able to advance based on your merit and work ethic.

I have heard that some attorneys and firms will not hire lawyers who have worked in the e-discovery field as document reviewers.  In my opinion, this stance is misguided.   Professor Ted Occhialino told my first year Civil Procedure class, “If you don’t know Civil Procedure, you will lose cases you should win.  If you know Civil Procedure well, you will win cases you should lose.”  Nowadays, the same principle applies to e-discovery.  If you do not understand the mechanics of electronic document production - what data exists, how to ask for it, how to process it, which e-discovery platforms are most user-friendly and easy to search, how to conduct document review, how to choose and manage document reviewers, how to analyze documents for attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine (not as easy as it sounds), how to draft a privilege log, what standards are used to challenge a privilege log - you will lose cases you should win.  If you aren’t familiar with these processes, you may find yourself or your firm in the unenviable position in which the McDermott law firm found itself - being sued for millions of dollars for inadvertently waiving privilege on a number of produced documents.  Gone are the days depicted in a recent episode of the new USA Network dramedy “Suits” in which a young attorney encounters a room full of boxes.  Nowadays, it is a room full of computers attached to millions of documents housed in “The Cloud” or in document retention centers in the Denver area.  In fact, in almost every large law firm in the country, electronic document review is a rite of passage for young associates.  It is both humbling and educational for young associates - and, in my opinion, absolutely critical to one’s development as an effective attorney or litigator.  Litigation doesn’t only involve court appearances and drafting memos and pleadings.  It involves a huge back-room operation.  Moreover, despite staff attorney lay-offs during the crisis, the trend in top law firms is to assign a partner to be in charge of e-discovery aspects of all major litigation and to have attorneys dedicated to e-discovery.  This is a necessary and good trend in my opinion.  I believe every law firm in the country, and support organizations for plaintiff attorneys such as the National Employment Lawyers’ Association (NELA) should develop e-discovery programs to assist solo practitioners and small law firms in the effective use of e-discovery in all forms of litigation.

So do I recommend a stint in the e-discovery industry despite its drawbacks?  You bet - for every attorney who wants to be an effective litigator in this day and age.  As in any job, however, keep your wits about you and your eyes open for other opportunities.

Friday, March 4, 2011

El Salvador, the NFL, the Men in Pink and the answer to the $64 million dollar question

In January, the National Labor Committee issued a report that NFL-licensed clothing is being manufactured in El Salvadoran sweat shops in a free trade zone where workers are surrounded by armed guards and barbed wire fences.  According to the National Labor Committee, the young women working in these sweat shops are subjected to constant verbal abuse and harassment while earning only 8 cents a piece for each of the $25 NFL jerseys they produce.  In its response to the NLC report on the Business and Human Rights website, the NFL passed the ball to subcontractor sports gear company Reebok to address sweatshop labor issues in their supply chain.  And I suppose the NFL might have a point.  I mean, really, what does the 225-pound Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers with his 6-year $64 million contract have to do with a 22-year-old woman in San Salvador who earns 64 cents to sew 8 NFL jerseys?

It may be that Aaron Rodgers has more in common with the young women sewing NFL jerseys in El Salvador than meets the eye.  In fact, Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the NFL players and owners may be the best advocates for sweatshop workers the world over.  Just a few weeks after the NLC report came out, the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl, a match-up that caused super-cynic Bill Maher to quip in a Huffington Post blog that “football is our most successful sport because the NFL takes money from the rich teams and gives it to the poor teams,” - pointing out that even football teams from America’s rust belt from cities famed for their manufacturing prowess in bygone days have a chance to compete for the championship.  Unlike football players the world over, American football players are unionized.  Even if they vote to decertify their union in the current battle with the NFL, NFL players will still be recognized as an association able to leverage power against team owners to achieve the players’ goal of a fair-sized piece of the multi-billion dollar industry that American football represents.  

The idea that the NFL should become the champion of third world worker rights is not as crazy as it sounds.  The NFL and its players are a force to be reckoned with on and off the field.  As the wife of an avid American football watcher and die-hard Washington Redskins fan, I have watched more football games than I care to admit.  Not only is there a Washington Redskins lamp on my TV stand - there is a pink Clinton Portis jersey in my closet.  It came as a shock to me last October to pass through the living room to see almost every single NFL player in every single game prancing around on football fields the country over in hot pink gloves, sneakers and helmets.  The remarkably unmanly gear by mainstream standards was part of the NFL’s “Crucial Catch” campaign to raise money for breast cancer awareness.  I found it deeply moving to see these very “manly” men crash and block and tackle and toss around pink-colored footballs while paying tribute to millions of women who suffer and have suffered from breast cancer.  The NFL “Crucial Catch” campaign continues as a brilliant marketing ploy raising funds for breast cancer awareness and putting money in NFL coffers.

The NFL’s “Crucial Catch” campaign shows that the NFL and its players can play a powerful role in the improvement of rights of workers in global supply chains that produce NFL-licensed apparel, gear and electronics.  The NFL licenses not only apparel, but video games and other electronic products as well.  In fact, the NFL and its players have the power to play a key role in revolutionizing corporate social responsibility in electronics manufacturing.  While numerous multi-stakeholder initiatives exist in garment manufacturing supply chains - including the Fair Labor Association and the Worker Rights Consortium - multi-stakeholder and other CSR initiatives in the global electronics manufacturing sector are in their infancy.

It is time for the Men in Pink to answer the $64 million dollar question and to make sure that not only players get a piece of the pie, but that the workers around the world who manufacture the gear bearing their images and mascots get a fair share as well.