This fleece gives you the chills

A fleecy pullover offered on the official merchandise web site of the George Bush re-election campaign is the woven embodiment of the hypocrisy and anti-working class character of that campaign, according to human rights activists.

The Burmese workers who sewed the pullover, embroidered with the “Bush-Cheney ’04” logo, were compensated about 4 cents for the garment which sells for $49.95 at www.georgewbushstore.com, says the National Labor Committee, a human rights group. The group says that the pullovers were made in Burma factories operating as joint ventures with the brutal military dictators.

Last July, Bush stated, “The U.S. will not waver from its commitment to the cause of democracy and human rights in Burma,” as he signed into law the Burma Freedom and Democracy Act, banning imports from that country.

According to a report from Newsday, the garments could have evaded the ban as part of a shipment that was rushed into the country Aug. 21, 2003, just days before the ban’s Sept. 1 effective date. Or they could have been part of a shipment that entered the U.S. via Vancouver after the ban took effect. Bush officials weren’t saying.

Teamsters make the best gefilte fish

VINELAND, N.J. (PAI) – With the Jewish holiday of Passover approaching, the Metro Washington Central Labor Council reminds unionists to buy kosher-for-Passover union-made products. That includes the Teamster-made gefilte fish at the Manischewitz plant in Vineland, N.J. It also includes other products by the firm – including, of course, its famous matzah, produced by Bakery Workers Local 3 members in Jersey City.

Contraceptive equity victory

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (PAI) – The California Supreme Court has ordered Catholic Charities in that state to provide birth control coverage as part of their health insurance, just as other organizations do under state law. Catholic Charities had argued the exception for religious groups opposed to contraception – as the church is – covers it.

But Catholic Charities is not a religious employer because it offers secular services, such as counseling and immigration advice, to people of all faiths, the court ruled. The charity also has employees of different faiths, the justices noted. SEIU Local 535, which represents those workers, filed a brief with the court arguing for contraceptive coverage.

Coalition of Labor Union Women President Gloria Johnson said the court’s ruling should spur other states to approve contraceptive equity laws. CLUW’s Contraceptive Equity Project lobbies for state legislation requiring health insurers to cover contraception. It encourages unions to make contraceptive coverage a key goal in negotiating health care provisions.

Labor Update is complied by Roberta Wood (rwood@pww.org).

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