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I’m in a club on campus called Students for Responsible Business, which is hosting a labor relations panel on campus on Wednesday.  The panel will include a mini case competition and speakers from the Haas School of Business and HP.  The speakers will be discussing the challenges of maintaining a balance between lowering operational costs by hiring workers overseas, and being sure to pay those workers fair wages.

I’m not always a rabid fan of the events we hold, but I think this one is going to be pretty interesting.

My marketing committee has been hard at work to promote the event through different mediums on campus.  Here are the flyers that Anna-Claire and I created to post on campus.  We tried to make them visually arresting and representative of major issues in labor relations today:

SRB’s main focus is Corporate Social Responsibility, a new trend in the business world to describe the belief that corporations have a responsibility not only to their shareholders and the financial bottom line, but also to the myriad of parties they impact, such as the environment, their workers, and the communities in which they are based.  I personally believe that it is possible to be socially responsible without sacrificing profits.  Consumers are more and more conscious of how their dollar votes, and find it increasingly important to patronize businesses with socially responsible practices.

Last spring, one of our professional events was a screening of The Corporation, a 2003 documentary that explored CSR.  Here’s a clip from that documentary describing the gaping disparity between how much companies charge for garments and how much they pay their workers:

If you go to Cal or if you’ll be in the Berkeley area on Wednesday evening, I highly recommend attending our “Don’t Sweat It” labor relations panel.  It’s on Wednesday, 9/24/08, 7-9 pm, in 219 Dwinelle.

What’s your take on labor relations?  Who’s responsible: The government?  The consumer?  The corporation?

Apparently this is 2007 news, but it’s news to me and to a lot of people I’ve talked to: the Australian government has decided to ban all incandescent lightbulbs in the country by 2010 to encourage the use of alternatives like CFLs.

Those had better be fluorescent lights, Sydney.

Those had better be fluorescent lights, Sydney.

CFLs are more expensive than incandescent lightbulbs, but they use about 1/5 of the energy (less energy is wasted as heat) and they last longer, so your energy bill can be lower in the long run.  In fact, my physics professor last year mentioned that when he was suprised when he traveled to Morocco, a relatively poor country that you’d think could not afford the high initial cost of CFLs.  In fact, it turns out that everyone in Morocco uses CFLs because they can’t afford the high sustained cost of running incandescent bulbs.

Nowadays, CFLs come in all shapes, and they dont cast a harsh light like old fluorescents did.

Nowadays, CFLs come in all shapes, and they don't cast a harsh light like old fluorescents did.

One common concern about CFLs is that they contain trace amounts of mercury.  I’ve heard that CFLs don’t have enough mercury to pose a danger to the consumer (unless you’re a total moron and run over to a broken bulb, inhaling deeply), but I suppose that disposing of them properly could be a concern.

Do you think that Australia’s move to ban incandescent lightbulbs is an example of a government taking positive steps to address the environment, or a decision best left up to individuals?