Garment Workers from Bangladesh Come to Greensboro to
Make Their Case, One Survived Building Collapse
"Students and Greensboro community members will hold a Forum to hear from Bangladeshi garment workers who are urging local Greensboro apparel giant VF Corporation, owner of North Face, Wrangler, Jansport and several other well-known brands, to take responsibility for its role in the massive worker safety crisis in the Bangladeshi garment industry. In 2010, 29 garment workers burned alive at a factory called That’s It Sportswear, while producing apparel for VF Corporation. Panelists will echo calls from workers for VF Corporation to make sure the safety of their workers by signing the Bangladesh Safety Accord, a legally binding agreement between brands and worker representatives – now signed by more than 150 brands and retailers – that holds the promise of bringing an end to the mass fatality disasters in Bangladesh garment factories.
For several months, VF Corporation has continued to resist calls from a steadily growing number of major American universities, including Duke, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Washington-Seattle, Penn, Cornell, Columbia, Brown, Rutgers and others, who have required their apparel licensees to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord.
Instead of signing the Accord as these universities have requested, VF has joined forces with Walmart and the Gap to create a company-controlled, non-binding agreement called the “Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.” Panel participants will discuss the shortcomings of this voluntary program – namely, its lack of power sharing with workers and their representatives, and its failure to compel brands to pay a single cent toward the repair and renovation of unsafe factories.
Where: Genesis Baptist Church (2812 East Bessemer Ave, Greensboro, NC 27405)
When: 6pm, Thursday, April 17th
Who: Panelists: Aleya Akter (General Secretary of the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation), Aklima Khanam (19-year-old survivor of the Rana Plaza collapse), Pricey Harrison (Democratic Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives) Reverend Bradley Hunt (Youth Minister of New Light Missionary Baptist Church), Travis Railsback (Greensboro Wendy’s Worker), Altha Cravey (Professor of Geography at UNC-Chapel Hill)
Sponsors: Beloved Community Center, Communication Workers of America Local 3607, Genesis Baptist Church, Greensboro Pulpit Forum, North Carolina AFL-CIO, North Carolina Triad Jobs with Justice, St. Philip AME Zion Church, United Students Against Sweatshops, Working America."
Submitted by Jeremy Sprinkle, NC State AFL-CIO