"Our members require better practices from those companies in which they are invested, not only for themselves, but for the children they teach and the parents and communities they serve."
WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers president and several AFT affiliate leaders, whose members have more than $500 million invested in Gap Inc. through various state teacher and other public employee retirement funds, called on Gap Inc.'s board of directors Monday to sign a fire and building safety accord regarding worker protections for garment workers in Bangladesh.
"By failing to sign the accord, and instead seeking to develop alternate plans through the Bipartisan Policy Center, Gap is sending a strong message to other companies that wish to write their own rules, weaken the agreement, and return to the same self-policing policies that have failed in the past," the teachers union leaders said in a letter.
More than 1,100 mostly poor women were killed when a garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh in April. Forty international firms have signed the multi-stakeholder Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Along with Gap, other U.S. companies refusing to sign the accord include Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney, Sears and the Children's Place.
"Our members require better practices from those companies in which they are invested, not only for themselves, but for the children they teach and the parents and communities they serve," the letter states. "We call on Gap and all U.S. companies that work with garment suppliers in Bangladesh to commit to improving worker protections by signing the accord now."
AFT President Randi Weingarten signed the letter, along with the following union leaders whose members have retirement funds invested in Gap:
Melissa Cropper, president, Ohio Federation of Teachers
Andy Ford, president, Florida Education Association
Dr. Calvin Fraser, secretary general, Canadian Teachers' Federation
Richard Iannuzzi, president, New York State United Teachers
Jerry Jordan, president, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
Ted Kirsch, president, AFT Pennsylvania
Louis Malfaro, secretary-treasurer, Texas AFT
David Quolke, president, Cleveland Teachers Union
Brenda Smith, president, AFT Colorado