Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lady Gaga: Tell Target Child Labor Isn't Golden

By Tim Newman

Last month, pop superstar Lady Gaga partnered with Target to offer fans a special edition of her forthcoming album Born This Way. Gaga hoped that the partnership would also offer her the opportunity to work with Target to improve the company's policies toward gay rights, but apparently her hopes did not come to fruition as she has recently decided to sever ties with the company. Before Gaga completely frees herself of this bad romance, she should speak out against forced and child labor by joining almost 22,000 Change.org readers in calling on Target to agree to responsible sourcing policies for its gold.

When Target made large contributions last year to virulently anti-gay politicians in Minnesota, LGBT advocates, includingmany Change.org readers, put pressure on Target to end this support. Despite tepid apologies, Target reportedly has continued to finance anti-gay candidates. A supporter of equal rights, Gaga had stated, "Our relationship is hinged upon their reform in the company to support the gay community and to redeem the mistakes they've made supporting those [antigay] groups." If Gaga is not able to push Target to do more to support gay rights be sitting at the table with the company, she is right to end the partnership. Before she slams the door, there's one more thing she can do to change Target's policies for the better.

As we have written about on the Human Trafficking blog, Target is lagging behind other major retailers and jewelry companies in committing to responsibly sourcing the gold in its products. In many countries, gold mining is tainted by the use of child labor and forced labor, not to mention other human rights and environmental abuses. Over 70 major companies have endorsed the No Dirty Gold campaign's Golden Rules that include protecting internationally recognized labor rights and ensuring safe working conditions in addition to making environmental improvements and respecting human and land rights.

Target has indicated that it is considering endorsing the Golden Rules for its gold sourcing, but until those internal discussions result in concrete improvements for the workers around the world whose rights are being abused to mine gold, advocates will continue to pressure Target to responsibly source its gold. As one of the biggest voices in pop culture, an artist with several certified gold records and someone who has Target's ear, Lady Gaga's support for the campaign to clean up Target's gold would go a long way pushing the company to improve its policies. So, Mother Monster, as parting words to Target, why not mobilize your "Punk Art Pop Revolution" to support workers in the gold industry globally?

In the mean time, you can send an e-mail to Target and recruit your friends to join here. Keep checking Change.org for updates and new ways to take action to support this campaign in the coming days!

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