WASHINGTON — The launch of a consumer-oriented campaign against manufacturers that source from low-wage countries did not appear to be making big news here Friday.

A Capitol Hill press conference aimed at getting media attention for the issue during the holiday shopping season drew a small turnout of about a half-dozen reporters. Representatives of two major news service wires, Associated Press and Reuters, attended the conference, but didn’t plan to write stories.

As reported, organizations participating in the campaign, spearheaded by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Ohio.), include the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the National Consumers League and Frontlash, a student-support group of the AFL-CIO. A Kaptur spokeswoman said the campaign would continue throughout 1995, and would target different manufacturers every month for their offshore sourcing practices. Companies targeted Friday were Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., Nike, Mattel and Dole Foods Co. Fact sheets attacked low wages and conditions under which workers produced goods in such countries as China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Guatemala.

Corporations have increased their profits by manufacturing offshore and have not lowered their consumer prices, Kaptur asserted. “We want to say to them that we’ve got their number and not to play us for fools anymore,” she said.

Industry spokesmen disputed the charges. A Phillips-Van Heusen spokesman said the company had been recognized as a leader in its industry for promoting better working conditions abroad. A Nike spokesman said the firm has memorandums of understanding on working conditions with all its overseas contractors. A Mattel spokesman said the company has minimum working standards it applies in all its plants worldwide, including health care and educational benefits for its workers. Comment was not available from Dole. — Fairchild News Service

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