By  on December 16, 1994

WASHINGTON -- A consumer campaign against Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., Nike and other companies that source abroad in low-wage countries is to be launched today by organized labor and consumer groups in an effort to discourage shoppers from buying their goods.

The companies cited "reap huge profits at the expense of the American worker and consumer, our communities, as well as the workers in the developing world," Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Ohio) said in an interview Thursday, prior to the press conference scheduled here today.

Kaptur is spearheading the campaign being waged by the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the National Consumers League and Frontlash, a student-support group of the AFL-CIO. Other companies to be pinpointed today are Dole Food Co. and toy maker Mattel Inc.

Some women's apparel companies will be targeted later in the year-long campaign, which will feature monthly attacks on different manufacturers.

"There are a number of top designer companies on our lists," said Evelyn Dubrow, vice president and legislative director of the ILGWU. Dubrow is to participate in today's press conference on behalf of the Coalition of Labor Union Women.

Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., New York, has "not transferred the value it has put into its shirts into its work force," said a fact sheet on the targeted companies, to be distributed at the press conference. "This 'American' company has the majority of its manufacturing operations in developing countries. Many of Van Heusen's workers, whether laid off in the U.S. or paid a few dollars a day in the developing world, cannot afford to buy a Van Heusen shirt and dress like the executives that the company caters to."

According to the fact sheet, Van Heusen shirts, whether they are made in the U.S. or abroad, retail for about $25, and costs of production offshore are considerably less. For example, the fact sheet said, Van Heusen workers in Thailand earn 59 cents an hour, and Guatemalan workers for the company earn $1.02 an hour, compared with U.S. Van Heusen workers who make $7.02 an hour.

A Van Heusen spokesman said the company has been recognized as a leader in the apparel industry for improving worker conditions abroad, and domestically, has increased its work force 20 percent in the past five years.

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