UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — From supply-chain workers at Samsung in South Korea battling leukemia, to concerns facing garment workers in Rana Plaza in Bangladesh and Nokia employees in India, stories of disease, deadly building collapses, and factory closures have brought working conditions in the global supply chains of big garment and electronics retailers into sharper focus.
The Center for Global Workers’ Rights, located in the Penn State School of Labor and Employment Relations, recently devoted its annual Spring Symposium to exploring these and other issues facing the most vulnerable workers in supply chains. More than two dozen practitioners, university researchers, trade unionists, and representatives from various international organizations attended the symposium, which took place March 23-24 on the Penn State University Park campus.
Panelists and participants at the event, including students of the Global Labor University, discussed key labor issues within global supply chains — poor working conditions, reproductive health concerns for young women workers, home-based workers, state responses to unionization, national and international legislation, and frameworks governing supply chains, to name a few. The goal was to have frank discussions on what has or has not worked, and what can be done differently to create synergies among researchers and practitioners to address the persistent issues within the global supply chains.
The Center also organized a public screening of the film “Death by Design: The Dirty Secret of our Digital Addiction,” which highlights the effects of consumer electronics on the environment and workers’ health. The screening was followed by a question-and-answer session between symposium panelists and the more than 150 Penn State students who attended the film.
For more information on the Center for Global Workers’ Rights or its annual spring symposium, please contact Mark Anner, center director and associate professor of labor and employment relations, at email@example.com.