AFT's Weingarten: "Investors and shoppers should consider the corporate values and responsibilities of clothing stores and brand names—especially those who have not signed the accord."
WASHINGTON—Statement of American Federation of Teachers President and AFL-CIO Vice President Randi Weingarten, urging garment companies doing business in Bangladesh to sign building safety accord:
"Garment manufacturers and retail companies working abroad have a moral and ethical responsibility to ensure the safety of their workers, just as these companies have for their U.S.-based employees. Companies outsource apparel work to developing countries because of their cheap labor but that does not give them license to ignore safety measures and put workers' lives at risk. The profound tragedy of the building collapse in Bangladesh, with a death toll of more than 1,000 mostly poor women, must be the wake-up call for companies to be responsible corporate stewards and for consumers to reconsider purchasing items made under dangerous conditions in Bangladesh.
"I call upon all companies involved in clothing manufacturing in Bangladesh to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Out of tragedy can come some good, as was the case with the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which led to dramatic improvements in working conditions.
"Investors and shoppers should consider the corporate values and responsibilities of clothing stores and brand names—especially those who have not signed the accord. Along with numerous European companies, two U.S. companies have signed the accord and I applaud them—PVH Corp., which includes Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, and Abercrombie & Fitch. Companies that have not signed the accord include Gap Inc./Old Navy, Children's Place, JCPenney, Wal-Mart and Sears."