COVER STORY |
What You and Your Congregation Can Do
Increasing public awareness is half the battle of stopping slavery. “When the public stops asking, ‘What do you mean by slavery?' and ‘You mean slavery still exists?' (questions I have to answer several times a week), then slaves will be on their way to freedom,” writes Kevin Bales, author of Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy . “One of the first things we have to do is admit our own ignorance.”
“Our government could, if it chose, take a very proactive stance against slavery, and it has not,” says UUA President William G. Sinkford. “There's a role for UUs to advocate with our national government.” To keep abreast of legislative efforts, sign up for the Free the Slaves newsletter.
Influence corporate policy
Support efforts that push corporations to ensure the suppliers they buy from do not use slave labor. Subscribe to the UUSC 's action alerts at uusc.org/ news/currentalerts.
Don't invest in slavery
Ask if your pension fund, mutual fund, and stockbroker can ensure that you are not investing in companies linked to slave labor. If not, move your money to socially screened investment vehicles that can.
Support the Taco Bell boycott
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in Florida, which has brought five confirmed cases of slavery to light since 1999, has asked Taco Bell, a major buyer of Florida tomatoes, to ensure that its suppliers do not engage in sweatshop or slavery conditions. The company refused to respond, so in 2001 the coalition initiated a consumer boycott of the fast-food chain. A boycott of all Florida tomatoes would hurt all pickers, but this boycott targets a major buyer, asking for a change in its practices. The coalition has organized demonstrations around the country, which UU churches have helped support.
Church groups, including the UU Migrant Ministry and the UUSC, have endorsed the boycott. This past spring executives from Taco Bell and parent company Yum Foods agreed to talks and acknowledged that changes must be made, but no agreement had been reached by press time.
Free the Slaves, 1326 14 th St. NW, Washington DC 20005; (866) 324-free : U.S. branch of the London-based Anti-Slavery International.
American Anti-Slavery Group, 198 Tremont St. # 421, Boston MA 02116; (617) 426-8161 . 45,000 -member network.
Break the Chain Campaign, 733 15 th St. NW, Suite 1020, Washington DC 20005; ips-dc.org/campaign; (202) 234-9382 : Formerly the Campaign for Migrant Domestic Workers Rights.
Coalition of Immokalee Workers, P.O. Box 603, Immokalee FL 34143; (239) 657-8311 : Advocates for the rights of its 2,000 farmworker members.