On Monday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m., Christopher Cox addressed university students and Dubuque community members about the need to help end human trafficking. The event was hosted by the Coalition Against Human Trafficking in the Tri-State Area at Clarke University.
Cox is the campaign manager for The Human Thread, an organization that strives to bring attention to consumer connections with human trafficking. Their mission statement states they are “Seeking to foster awareness that promotes solidarity between consumers of clothing and those who produce them to create a more just economy and sustainable communities.”
Started by Fr. Michael Crosby in 2013, the organization began after the devastating collapse of a Bangladesh clothing factory. The horrific collapse killed 1,133 factory workers who had already been abused through unjust wages and working conditions. This factory is one of many within the clothing industry, though most do not receive the publicity that the tragedy brought. However, daily unjust circumstances persist across the world to produce the clothing Americans take for granted.
During his presentation, Cox educated the audience about the products consumers purchase or use daily that can be linked back to human trafficking. Chocolate, coffee, cell phones, and clothing are four of the biggest contributors to this abomination. Throughout the event, Cox used enlightening statistics to show the poverty that many garment workers endure. After asking the audience if they knew where their clothes came from, Cox discussed how the clothes bought at popular stores are make all over the world. The same style shirt could be made in three different countries but still placed next to each other in the store.
He urged consumers to be conscious about where their clothes come from. However, Cox did not endorse boycotting clothing companies that are connected to unjust labor. Instead, he explained how a simple 0.5% to 5% raise of clothing prices could make the difference to give workers a just living wage. This would mean that a shirt that cost 10 dollars would only raise the price to 10.50 dollars. Students were impressed by the scorecards Cox presented showing how companies compared to one another for just wages.
“(Cox) showed us scorecards that put popular clothing companies under the microscope,” said sophomore Natalie Droeske. “It was really eye opening to see who cared the most.”
Last year, The Human Thread ran a postcard campaign. This program invited consumers to write postcards to Macy’s and Kohl’s, asking them to create one line of just wage clothes. Audience members were encouraged to take a postcard to continue the movement.
Loras students who attended were impressed by Cox’s talk.
“It was a really eye-opening experience to actually look at something that we often overlook as a society, like clothing,” said junior Matt Sedlacek. “We don’t take it into much consideration how we are impacting the cheap labor of others.”
The scorecards and other information about The Human Thread can be found on their website at http://www.humanthreadcampaign.org/.