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23 Nov, 2015

New Green America Campaign Calls Out Hasbro And Disney For Sweatshop-made Toys

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — One week before the “Black Friday,” Green America, the DC-based consumer advocacy organization, is launching a campaign calling on Disney and Hasbro to improve conditions for the overseas workers that make their products. In particular, the Green America campaign calls for these companies to create a safe work environment for workers and pay higher wages that would allow workers to cover their needs without relying on excessive overtime.

The campaign petition can be found at greenamerica.org/go/toys/ and calls on Hasbro and Disney to:

  • Create a safe work environment, including free and easy access to safety equipment, health screenings/exams, and clear and unlocked fire escapes;
  • Train workers adequately and inform them of short- and long-term health risks, as well as how to reduce these risks
  • Pay livable wages and cease illegal, excessive overtime;
  • Pay workers for all mandatory job-related activities; and
  • Allow workers to elect enterprise level union representatives.

Major toy manufacturers, including Hasbro and Disney, make their toys in factories in China where workers regularly work 11 hours per day for as little as $1 to $2 an hour and often do not have adequate safety protections. This is a key finding of a new in-depth investigative report, “The Other Side of Fairy Tales,” available online at http://chinalaborwatch.org, from the human rights group, China Labor Watch (CLW).

“Toy companies demand the lowest possible production prices to increase profit margins, and in the end it’s the workers who suffer, literally risking their lives to make Disney and Hasbro toys,” said Elizabeth O’Connell, director of consumer advocacy at Green America. “With the heaviest toy-buying season upon us, its imperative consumers choose toys that were made without exploiting workers while also putting pressure on toy brands—telling companies they can no longer get away with abusive practices.”

CLW investigators worked undercover at five major toy factories in China and found sweatshop abuses in factories making products for Hasbro, Disney, Mattel, Mattel-owned Fisher-Price, McDonald’s, Jakks Pacific, NSI Toys, Battat, and MGA Entertainment. This investigation follows in-depth investigations conducted regularly since 2000, which also exposed Hasbro and Disney. The 2015 findings indicate that despite the industry knowing about widespread labor abuse, conditions for toy workers are not improving, and in some cases they are getting worse. As two of the most profitable toy manufacturers, Hasbro and Disney can no longer shirk their responsibilities to the people who make their products.

Consumers looking for toys made by workers who were treated well, and made without deadly toxins, can go to Green America’s www.SafeGreenToys.org to find options.

Investigators found a large number of violations at both Hasbro and Disney Facilities, including:

  • 11 hour work days, 6 days per week in hot factories with few breaks;
  • Workers rarely received protective equipment, despite handling harsh chemicals. Workers complained of nausea, headaches and dizziness;
  • Safety training was perfunctory and often lasted for just an hour, far short of the Chinese legal requirement of 24 hours;
  • Workers lived in crowded dorms, sleeping 8 to 16 a room, with few bathrooms, often no hot water, and poor fire safety;
  • Despite working upwards of 66 hours/week, most workers still earned just $350-$480 USD a month, far short of a living wage; and
  • Factories cheat workers out of earnings. The Hasbro supplier required workers to start work before the official shift time and counted Saturday shifts as regular hours, to avoid overtime pay. If workers at the Disney supplier were even 1 minute late, their pay would be docked by half a day.

The labor abuses listed above are a result of brand companies like Hasbro and Disney demanding the lowest possible production price, in order to maximize profits. Hasbro, maker of My Little Pony, Play-Doh and Candyland, reported profits of $415 million in 2014. Disney, known for its Star Wars and Frozen toys, reported over $7.5 billion in profits in 2014.  CLW estimated it would take a Hasbro worker more than 2,400 years to earn Hasbro’s CEO’s annual salary, and a Disney worker would need to work for more than 7,000 years to earn what Disney’s CEO Bob Iger earns in one year.

Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America (formerly Co-op America) provides the economic strategies and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems. http://www.GreenAmerica.org.