Fair Trade(s)

fair-trade-labelThere has been a lot made in pop culture these days of “Fair Trade.” Everything from coffee to shoes to blue jeans can be fair trade certified. Rock and roll artists (Coldplay) and grocery stores (Whole Foods) rant about it and remind us that Fair Trade Certified means that the product was produced in a humane work environment, the raw materials were legally acquired, and the workers were paid a living wage. I think it’s a great concept. As long as consumers choose Fair Trade products, capitalism will allow the model to work and thrive promoting the practices across a broader spectrum. We may all pay a bit more, but we are speaking with our loudest voice (our dollar) and admonishing unfair work practices, child labor and raw materials procured in an exploitative manner.

Closer to home, in fact right inside your home…Fair Trade principles can apply. How about the handyman or contracting organizations that: only pay their employees in cash (as they collect unemployment from a previous job), hire illegal workers, don’t register or carry a bond in the cities in which they work, don’t pay worker’s compensation premiums, don’t pay unemployment or payroll tax, don’t have a general liability policy and don’t offer their employees basic benefits like medical insurance?

Those organizations always win the price battle in competitive bid situations. How can they not? They have no fixed overhead! Ever think about what might happen if one of them became seriously injured while working around your home? I have thought about it…a lot! They or their surviving dependants have every right to sue the homeowner! Look into it and decide whether Fair Trade makes sense right here at home.

Currently our state is underfunded due to declining tax revenue. The worker’s compensation and unemployment funds are almost completely bankrupt. Shouldn’t we demand that businesses and practitioners pay their fair share? By hiring someone that skirts these responsibilities, homeowners take on a huge liability risk and help perpetuate the financial crisis in Ohio.

What’s that saying about thinking globally and acting……oh yea.

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