By  on December 2, 2008

WASHINGTON — Two labor rights organizations released a consumer guide for companies that produce and sell sweatshop-free merchandise.

The “2009 Shop with a Conscience Consumer Guide,” produced by SweatFree Communities and the International Labor Rights Forum, is a listing of apparel made under “ethical conditions,” according to the lists’ authors. The guide has been released annually for the past three years, said a spokeswoman for the International Labor Rights Forum.

“This holiday season, every dollar we spend on presents that are made by workers who have good jobs and are paid decent wages is an economic stimulus dollar,” said Bjorn Claeson, executive director of SweatFree Communities.

“The power of our connections to workers around the world is real and can make a meaningful difference in their lives,” said Bama Athreya, executive director of the International Labor Rights Forum. “All we need is the consciousness to act and use that power.”

The criteria for companies on the list included healthy and safe working conditions, living wages, good benefits and fair treatment of workers. The list also highlights businesses where workers have access to unions or worker-owned cooperatives. Retailers and vendors can apply to be included in the guide or identified by the two organizations responsible for the list. The companies must then meet the established criteria.

Among the companies on the list are Justice Clothing, Maggie’s Organics/Clean Clothes, Autonomie Project, No Sweat Apparel, Fuerza Unida, Solidarity Clothing and the Working World. Retailers selling women’s, men’s and children’s apparel, as well as footwear, were also included, but no national chains or department stores made the list.

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