Galloway Township will not be a Fair Trade town following a 4-2 vote by township council at its meeting Monday night, Sept. 24.
Deputy Mayor Tony Coppola and Councilman Jim Gorman offered the dissenting votes and Councilwoman Whitney Ullman was absent.
“My vote needs to be what my heart is telling me,” Mayor Don Purdy said. “If Galloway supports it, the question has to be would I put this in my own home?”
“If there was anything in this resolution that mandated behavior, I would be against it, but there’s not,” Coppola said. “It doesn’t impose any regulations on anyone.”
The resolution was brought before the council by the Go Green Galloway Taskforce for Sustainability.
Fair Trade focuses on a fair wage for laborers, direct trade between groups and eliminating the middleman, and promoting safe and healthy conditions for workers in developing countries through a grassroots movement. Companies that create Fair Trade products don’t take advantage of child labor.
According to Fair Trade Towns USA, Fair Trade Towns “seek to empower communities to organize a local grassroots movement” and “bring together schools, places of worship, retailers and community organizations in their towns and cities and provides special recognition for their efforts.”
The Fair Trade Town designation provides a “permanent platform for continued outreach and education to build a Fair Trade movement locally and deepen each community’s commitment to international justice.”
Becoming a Fair Trade Town doesn’t mean Galloway businesses can only deal in Fair Trade items.
“I understand it’s not compelling anyone to do anything, but by the power of suggestion, I think it is,” Councilman John Mooney said.
“If we pass it, we need to live up to it,” Councilman Tom Bassford said.
“It gives people an option,” Gorman said. “If people gravitate to something like this, and it can help local business, I think we should do it.”
The fact that the resolution was shot down doesn’t prevent businesses within the township from selling Fair Trade items.
There are already 11 locations that sell Fair Trade items, including: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church; Peace Lutheran Church; Herban Legends; Fairest of Them All; Yoga Nine; Cook’s Corner; Dunkin Donuts; Starbucks; Noyes Museum of Art Stockton College; Friends of Forsythe Refuge; the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; ShopRite; and Gourmet Liquor Store.
“The numbers don’t make sense for me,” Mooney said. “We’re the only town in South Jersey considering this, and there’s 28 in the whole country. We’re not signing the Declaration of Independence here. I don’t want to put any locals in a position where they are being shunned. There are a couple of businesses that are already at the tipping point, and I don’t want to put them out.”
“Galloway had a chance to make a statement tonight that we don’t agree with child labor, and I disagree with the vote,” resident and Democratic candidate challenger for Mooney's seat, Jim McElwee said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “To vote no because no one else does it, I don’t agree with that. Just because no one else is doing it is not a reason we shouldn’t do it.”
Councilman Brian Tyrrell is an Associate Professor in Hospitality and Tourism Management Studies at Stockton and says he hasn’t seen any evidence that the Fair Trade movement works.
“We have it at the college, and I’ve not seen a lot of evidence that it works,” Tyrrell said. “I’m having difficulty with it personally.”
“I run two businesses, and I don’t feel compelled to check the shelves to make sure we have Fair Trade products,” Coppola said. “I support the Go Green committee that we appointed. If it mandated activity, I’d be against it, but it doesn’t.”
The resolution included an aspect that promoted buying local. Purdy, Tyrell and Mooney all said they would support the buy local effort if it were separated from the Fair Trade initiative.
“I think the whole thing was over the top,” Gorman said following the meeting. “You have people that look for the green labels. It’s a certain product that people go to. It just gives people another option.”