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Popular Rapper Turns Down Endorsement $ for Clothing Line Over Sweatshop Issue

Popular Rapper Turns Down P. Diddy Offer Over Sweatshops

By National Labor Committee
Referred By: http://www.nlcnet.org
Published: January 21, 2005

NATIONAL LABOR COMMITTEE
HUMAN & WORKER RIGHTS UPDATE


Tego Calderon, a hugely popular, young, progressive rap artist from Puerto
Rico turned down an offer from Sean P. Diddy Combs to appear in a major ad
campaign to promote his Sean John clothing line. According to the New York
Post (January 12, 2005) Tego refused to be part of the ad campaign "because he
found out that Combs' high-end apparel company is allegedly running sweatshops
in Central America...."

Tego said "I can't say in my songs one thing, and then personally be about
something else. Now that someone is offering me some change, I'm going to go
against the principles that my parents taught me? Nah." (See complete article
below).

Another rap artist, Daddy Yankee, who did join Combs' ad campaign said through
a spokesperson that in the future they would do more "homework" to check out
possible sweatshop links before signing onto any other promotional deals.

If only more celebrity artists and athletes had the same integrity as Tego
Calderon, this might be a very different place for the tens of millions of
exploited young women across the developing world who sew our clothing and
assemble our CD players and cell phones for just pennies an hour. These
forgotten workers need a voice, and perhaps they have found one in Tego
Calderon.

If you want to thank Tego Calderon for the strong position he has taken in
support of workers rights, you can write him via his website:
http://futuroe3.com/tego

(The website is in Spanish. Click on Contact me (Contácteme) on the bottom
right hand side. Fill in your name, email address and your message. )

Model message:

Dear Tego Calderon,
Thank you for the great stand you have taken in refusing to participate in the
promotion of clothing that could be linked to sweatshops. If only more
celebrity artists and athletes would show the same integrity as you have, this
might be a very different place for the millions of exploited young women
across the developing world who sew our clothing and assemble our CD players
and cell phones for just pennies an hour. These forgotten workers need a
voice, and perhaps they have found one in Tego Calderan. Thank you for what
you have done.

Hola Tego Calderon,
Gracias por tu digna postura de rehusarte a participar en un anuncio de ropa
que podria vincularte a la explotacion en las maquilas. Estamos muy contentos
de la integridad que tu has mostrado. deseariamos que mas personalidades
públicas, artístas y atletas sigan tu ejemplo. Si fuera así, la realidad seria
muy diferente para millones de mujeres jovenes explotadas a traves del mundo
menos desarrollado, las cuales cosen nuestra ropa y ensamblan nuestros equipos

CD, DVD, MP3 y celulares, ganando una miseria de solo unos centavos la hora.
Estas trabajadoras olvidadas necesitan una voz, y quizas la han encontrado en
la persona de Tego Calderon. Gracias por lo que has hecho. Felicidades.

Copyright 2005 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
The New York Post

January 12, 2005 Wednesday

SECTION: All Editions; Pg. 54

LENGTH: 729 words

HEADLINE: MORE MONEY, MORE PROBLEMS

BYLINE: Sandra Guzman

BODY:

TEGO CALDERON is putting his money where his mike is. The king of reggaeton,
who, as reported on these pages last month, was tapped by P.Diddy to be part
of the Sean John spring collection ad campaign, turned down the King of Bling
because he found out that Combs¹ high-end apparel company is allegedly running
sweatshops in Central America and he felt personally disrespected by Puffy¹s
offer.

Speaking to us via phone from his home in Puerto Rico, the politically
conscious and hugely popular Puerto Rican rapper told us that there were
several reasons why he passed on the opportunity to be associated with the
millionaire rap mogul.

"I heard about the human rights violations in his clothing factories in
Central America but frankly there was more," explained the artist. "Me falto
el respeto, [he dissed me] with his offer. I just did a $75,000 commercial in
Puerto Rico with Nydia Caro. Someone like Puffy could have offered more than
$2,000 - but again, it wasn¹t about the money. I was not persuadable. It was
about the principle."

Tego, who is currently in the studio recording his next album (due out this
summer), expressed his displeasure with the whole episode: "It¹s the
principle. I don¹t think he [Puffy] knows what I am about."

"What hurts me the most is that my colleagues accepted the offer [to do the ad
campaign], thinking that it was a great opportunity. This was about respecting
us, and what we do."

The hot-as-cakes artist admits that his decision cost him the promised "Time
Square billboard and exposure to mainstream America and MTV¹s and VH1¹s
audiences" - but he was resolute.

"Forgive me, but I don¹t need Time Square, I don¹t need a billboard. I am not
trying to conquer white Middle America. I already won the hearts and respect
of those I wanted to win - mi gente Latina, my people, the street, my black
brothers and sisters," said the defiant rapper.

Calderon, fielding blockbuster offers for multi-million-dollar recording
contracts, also dropped exclusive news - he is not signing with a major label,
a decision that will cost him major money.

"I ain¹t trying to be no employee, I have worked too hard to build what I
have," he said. He added that, to the chagrin of his entire crew, he will only
accept a distribution deal (with a major label).

"I¹ve never been a good employee. I don¹t like anyone telling me what to do.
Yup, I will lose millions ...but I keep my freedom.

"I can¹t say in my songs one thing, and then personally be about something
else," he said. "Now that someone is offering me some change, I¹m going to go
against the principles that my viejos (parents) taught me? Nah."

Finally, he added, "I am surprised that this got out, this was a very personal
decision."

News that Diddy¹s apparel company was allegedly exploiting workers did not
surprise Charles Kernaghan, the head of the National Labor Committee. His
group, which monitors apparel working conditions in Third World countries
found Combs¹ Honduras shops were violating basic human and worker¹s rights
back in 2003.

"The Honduras situation was horrific," said Kernaghan. "They were giving young
women pregnancy tests every month, locking bathrooms all day, no health
insurance, and verbally and sometimes physically abusing them."

Only a threat of protest in December of 2003 got the rapper and his people to
negotiate.

"To his credit, Mr. Combs transformed the Setisa [Honduras] factory. He
deserves enormous praise," says the labor leader. "But that victory could have
been extended. He chose to clean up and stop at one."

Meanwhile, Daddy Yankee, another reggaetan rapper, who did agree to be part of
the label¹s advertising campaign, said through his management company that he
was not aware of any new claims.

"We knew about past allegations [in Honduras] but thought that it was all
cleaned up. The new situation is news to us, " says Anthony Ramirez, of Daddy
Yankee¹s management team.

Ramirez says that presently they are reviewing other promotional offers and
will do more "homework" in the future.

P.Diddy defended his award-winning fashion line though a statement issued by
his COO, Todd Kahn. "Sean John has long had very strict policies with which
all of its vendors are required to comply. Our compliance team inspects and
certifies all of our factories around the globe. We have absolutely zero
tolerance for non-compliance with our policies."

********************************************************

National Labor Committee
540 West 48th Street, 3rd Fl.
New York, NY 10036
phone: (212) 242-3002
fax: (212) 242-3821
http://www.nlcnet.org