Posts filed under ‘Sweatfree’

End Gap & Walmart Death Trap Factories: Safe Workplaces for All 10 city tour, April 8-26, 2013

This tour will be coming to Washington with events at the University of WA (6:30-8:30 pm Savey Hall Room 260 at UW) and in Olympia (sponsored by Sweatfree NW and the South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign) April 23-(location to TBD)

WHAT: 10 city tour with Sumi Abedin, a survivor of the Tazreen fire, and Kalpona Akter, rd. executive director of Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity

WHEN: April 8-26, 2013

SPONSORS: Corporate Action Network, International Labor Rights Forum, Making Change at Walmart, SumOfUs, SweatFree Communities, United Students Against Sweatshops, and Warehouse Workers United

MORE INFO: All tour events will be posted on Corporate Action Network at


For more than a decade, Gap, Walmart and other major brands have produced clothes in Bangladesh factories that they know are fire traps. As a result, since 2006, over 600 apparel workers, mostly young women, have died in what could have been preventable factory fires.

Now, two major apparel makers—PVH/Tommy Hilfiger and the large German retailer, Tchibo—have signed a legally-binding fire safety agreement that calls for independent fire inspections of all of the Bangladesh factories they use and requires them to pay for the necessary measures to make these factories safe, and to give their workers a say in how to accomplish this. Gap and Walmart have refused to join that agreement and Walmart continues to obstruct efforts to achieve fire safety in the factories it uses in Bangladesh as reported in The New York Times on December 5, 2012 (“Documents Indicate Walmart Blocked Safety Push in Bangladesh”).

It’s time for Gap and Walmart to address their history of deadly negligence and take responsibility for workers’ safety before one more avoidable tragedy occurs.


* Demand that Gap and Walmart join the legally-binding fire safety agreement already signed by PVH/Tommy Hilfiger and German retailer Tchibo requiring independent fire inspections, workers’ voice in fire safety measures, and making retailers financially responsible for the necessary measures to prevent factory fires which have killed over 600 workers since 2006.

* Demand that Walmart pay the compensation it owes to families of the workers killed in the Tazreen fire and to injured workers.

* Demand that Walmart stop obstructing fire safety efforts in Bangladesh apparel factories as documented in The New York Times on December 5, 2012.


* During the tour visit:

o Nonviolent direct actions at prominent Walmart and Gap stores

o Delegation to Walmart and Gap headquarters

o Talks at universities in support of student activism urging university affiliation with the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent monitoring organization

o Meetings with state government policy makers to encourage the adoption of sweatfree procurement policies and membership in the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium

o Meetings with federal government to ask lawmakers to call on US companies to adopt binding fire safety agreements

* In any city anytime during April:

o Leaflet at your local Gap or Walmart store o Sign the petition to Gap at

o Sign the petition to Walmart at

o Repost tour highlights from @ILRF on twitter and


The tour will feature garment worker Sumi Abedin and labor rights advocate Kalpona Akter.

Sumi Abedin is a Bangladeshi garment worker who survived the November 24, 2012, fire that killed 112 workers at Tazreen Fashions, a factory that supplied Walmart, Disney, Sears, SeanJohn, and Dickies, and produced US Marines logo apparel for Delta Apparel / Soffe. Sumi was working on the 4th floor of the factory at the time of the fire and survived after jumping from the burning building.

Kalpona Akter is the executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS), one of Bangladesh’s most prominent labor rights advocacy organizations, and is herself a former child garment worker. BCWS is regarded by the international labor rights movement and by multinational apparel companies as among the most effective grassroots labor organizations in the country. Levi Strauss & Co. calls BCWS “a globally respected labor rights organization, which has played a vital role in documenting and working to remedy labor violations in the apparel industry in Bangladesh.” Kalpona is an internationally-recognized labor rights advocate and has travelled widely to speak about the deplorable conditions that Bangladesh garment workers face every day. She was interviewed extensively by local and international media following the deadly fire at Tazreen Fashions in November 2012.

New York Times, December 28, 2012, “As Walmart Makes Safety Vows, It’s Seen as Obstacle to Change”:

“The Walmart system of audits and inspections is not improving the factory safety conditions here in Bangladesh,” said Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity. “They maintain this system to enable them to keep their hands clean and deny responsibility.”


April 11, 2013 at 10:32 am Leave a comment

ANNUAL ANTI SWEATSHOP FILM FEST: Nov 9th, 7pm at Traditions




Join us for our Annual Free Film Fest presented by the South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign, a community anti-sweatshop group since 2000. We will show the investigative film, The Dark Side of Chocolate, a film that looks at child labor and slavery in the Ivory Coast and evaluates the promises made by large chocolate manufacturers to deal with this issue when over the last decade there were revelations about the abuses of children and witb pressure from Congress, promises by the industry to stop labor abuse. Filmmakers Miki Mistrati and U Roberto Romano launched a behind-the-scenes investigation to verify if these allegations of child labor in the chocolate industry are present today.

Also we will show 2 short videos on the situation for garment workers in Bangladesh. One, TRIANGLE RETURNS, by the Institute for Global Labour & Human Rights draws the parallels between the sweatshop conditions in the U.S. 100 years ago which led to the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City and the current day working conditions for 3.4 million garment workers in Bangladesh. The second, produced by Sweatfree Communities, updates the struggle of workers in Bangladesh to protest to improve their working conditions even while such protests are repressed and leaders are imprisoned and threatened with life sentences or death. All of the above beg the questions, which, hopefully a renewed sense of urgency, leads us to some individual actions but also to some collective and community actions.

View the trailer here.

Traditions Fair Trade is located at 300 5th Ave in downtown Olympia. 360-705-2819.

November 4, 2011 at 7:34 pm Leave a comment

Closing the Loop on the Global Apparel Supply Chain Cambodian Labor Activists join members of Seattle City Council and WA State Legislature to call for Washington State to pass a SweatFree Purchasing Policy

 from the WA FAir Trade Coalition: The Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers Democratic Union and the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia, representing over 80,000, mostly women, apparel workers are coming to Seattle to share their fight for a living wage. A fight which brought hundreds of thousands of workers to the streets of Cambodia within the last year.
The City of Seattle in the last year passed a SweatFree Purchasing policy in solidarity with these workers and apparel workers worldwide who continue to labor in sweatshops making clothing for the US marketplace. Next year the WA State Legislature will move forward on a State-wide SweatFree Purchasing Policy-to insure that WA State tax dollars are supporting workers rights wherever we do business.

This is an opportunity for producers and consumers to create a humane supply chain that benefits everyone with high working standards and living wages.

When: 12pm Noon, Thursday, July 28th 2011
Where: Seattle City Hall, 600 4th Ave, Seattle (inside lobby)
Confirmed Speakers: Seattle Councilmember Nick Licata, WA State Senator Steve Conway, Ath Thorn, Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU), Ms Morm Nhim, National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC), Phouk Hoeung, Cambodian Women Movement’s Organization.
Invited speakers: WA Rep. Bob Hasegawa, Seattle Councilmember Tom Rassmussen.
Join the Washington Fair Trade Coalition/SweatFree WA Campaign, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), Solidarity Center AFL-CIO, and Teamsters 117
 Cambodian delegation in Seattle City Hall-solidarity in the global apparel supply chain from producers to consumers. Bring signs calling for WA State to pass a SweatFree Purchasing Policy.

July 27, 2011 at 4:38 am Leave a comment

100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Friday, March 25th marks the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City when a fire in a garment factory resulted in the deaths of 146 workers. The 500 workers at this factory were mostly women, and predominately very young immigrants from Europe. As a fire broke out on the top three floors of a nine story building the piles of flammable materials, the exit doors locked by employers, the inadequate fire escape which collapsed, and fire truck ladders which only reached six floors high led many to leap from their deaths from the 9th floor.

The local labor rights group, the South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign , honors this historical tragedy, the magnitude of which spurred campaigns to demand new safety and labor laws, while also highlighting the imperative need to address the many sweatshop abuses still present in the global marketplace. We will do this by exhibiting the paintings of garment workers around the globe by Northwest artist Janet Essley.

Accompanying the exhibit displayed at Traditions Fair Trade (located at 300 5th Ave in downtown Olympia) will be an explanation not only of the Triangle Fire in 1911 but the sweatshop conditions, even the parallel fires, that still occur in garment factories around the globe, especially in Bangladesh.

For more information you can contact Dick @ Traditions 705-2819. 300 5th Ave SW Olympia or


Painting by  Featured NW artist Janet Essley

March 25, 2011 at 12:19 am Leave a comment

Olympia Joins SweatFree Consortium

After an incredible weekend at the National SweatFree Summit, we are thrilled to announce that Olympia has officially joined the Sweatfree Consortium! For over 9 years, the South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign, a coalition of Olympia, Tumwater, and Lacey students, union members, people of faith, and concerned citizens have been working to raise awareness about the sweatshop industry, and challenge individuals as well as public and private institutions to create positive change by altering their purchasing practices.

At Olympia’s final City Council meeting in 2009, the council voted unanimously to join the Consortium. Now the official papers have been signed and Olympia will join cities and states throughout the country as members of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium which “assists member governments in meeting their goals for responsible sweatshop-free purchasing.  It meets a critical need for information about supplier factories by providing expertise and pooling resources to monitor working conditions and enforce “sweatfree” procurement standards”.

This weekend Marigold staff joined over 50 sweatfree activists throughout the country gathered in Olympia for a series of workshops and strategy sessions.

Pictured here is Liana from Sweatfree Communitites, Trina from Intl Labor Rights Forum and Reynaldo Corporan Donastorg, FEDOTRAZONAS Union, Dominican Republic.

November 17, 2010 at 8:36 am 2 comments

National Sweatfree Summit just a month away!

November 5-7, 2010 in Olympia, WA

The 7th Annual National SweatFree Summit is coming up in Olympia, Washington, Nov. 5-7, 2010. Information, registration, and sponsorship information is available at The program includes two free public events (highlighted below) with international speakers that do not require conference registration. Please read on for more information, and thank you in advance for spreading the word to your network.


Cross-border organizing in the post-election season

Where: Traditions Cafe, 300 5th Ave SW, Olympia, WA
When: Friday, November 5th, 7:00-8:30pm

Featuring Augusto Obregon and Carmen Duran

with Kristen Beifus of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, Colette Cosner of Witness for Peace, and Bjorn Claeson of SweatFree Communities
AUGUSTO OBREGON has been a campesino farmer and community leader in El Regadio, Esteli, Nicaragua for over thirty years. Three years ago, a tobacco factory designated as a free trade zone was constructed in his community. While the factory may have slightly curtailed migration from his community, the increased cultivation of tobacco has threatened food security, the environment and the health of his people. Augusto’s story illustrates the contentions of development under neo-liberal trade policies and explores the root causes of migration through the eyes of most affected. He is the vice-president of the Federation for the Integral Development between Farmers, a non-profit organization which organizes small-scale farmers around sustainability projects and food sovereignty issues.
CARMEN DURAN assembled television components in Mexico until her job was moved to Indonesia. Experiencing first-hand the effects of NAFTA, she worked grueling hours, suffered from chemicals on the job, and got little sleep — all for less than a dollar an hour. Featured in the documentary Maquilapolis, Carmen’s experiences as a factory worker led her to become a community organizer with the Tijuana Center for Information for Workers (CITTAC) to advocate for the basic rights of low-wage export-processing workers. She has also witnessed the impacts of migration within Mexico, from Mexico to the US, and now from the US back to Mexico again.

This free event (donations welcomed) is part of the Witness for Peace Northwest Tour ( and the National SweatFree Summit ( The talk will be bilingual English-Spanish with professional interpretation.


Worker organizing, corporate campaigning, and sweatfree policy

Where: First Christian Church, 701 Franklin St. SE, Olympia, WA
When: Saturday, November 6th, 4:00-6:00pm

REYNALDO CORPORAN DONASTORG, was a union organizer and worker at BJ&B, where he made baseball caps for Nike and Adidas. The 2003 BJ&B union contract victory was the result of a major international solidarity campaign that gave hope to the possibility of bringing justice to free trade zone workers. However, in 2007 the factory closed as the companies moved their production to non-union environments with lower wages. This year some of the workers found jobs at Alta Gracia Apparel, a new unionized factory that was recently featured in the New York Times for paying three times the minimum wage. Now, as Secretary of Education at the FEDOTRAZONAS union, Reynaldo is researching working conditions and organizing possibilities at major government contractor factories in the Dominican Republic.

VICTOR VELEZ, an attorney and organizer with the union Workers United is leading a lawsuit against Propper International claiming that the company has failed to pay legally owed sick days. He is also organizing a coordinated campaign for union recognition at all of the company’s factories in Puerto Rico. Propper is one of the largest apparel contractors of the U.S. Government and a major military supplier. The State of Washington and the City of Seattle also buy public employee uniforms made by Propper.

This free event (donations welcomed) is part of the National SweatFree Summit ( The talk will be bilingual English-Spanish with professional interpretation.



The National SweatFree Summit will include workshops for new organizers and experienced campaigners alike. In addition to the workshops and public talks, we will develop plans to grow membership in the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium (, lay out the next steps for our emerging campaign for a federal sweatshop-free purchasing policy (, and coordinate local work across the country. This year’s Summit will be especially exciting as it is our first national gathering since the founding of the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium. Come join us in celebrating this major accomplishment and in designing our work for 2011.

More information and online registration is at

We are seeking co-sponsors to enable us to offer travel scholarships to low-income organizers from around the country. Thanks to the generous contributions of our sponsors, last year we provided 20 travel scholarships, which helped ensure that most local community campaigns were represented at the Summit. By sponsoring the Summit, you will help make possible a more accessible national gathering and a more equitable anti-sweatshop movement. Sponsors receive publicity on our website as well as recognition amongst groups that promote ethical purchasing. To download sponsorship materials click here: Word DocPDF

October 7, 2010 at 8:47 pm Leave a comment

SweatFree Purchasing Policy for the City of Seattle

Seattle joins nine states, 40 cities, 15 counties, and 118 school districts with sweatfree policies

SEATTLE -The new policy requires sweat-free labor standards and a Code of Conduct for all bidders on City uniform contracts and makes a commitment to protections against slave labor, forced labor, forced overtime, excessive hours, child labor, below-poverty wages, discrimination, harassment, and other types of unfair labor practices. The new policy will be integrated into bid and contract materials and used as contracts come up for new bid.

Every year Washington suffers the loss of several thousand trade-related manufacturing jobs. About the new policy Councilmember Licata said, “When incentives exist for fair business practices, the competitive ability of companies with fair labor practices can increase and this can also level the playing field for regional manufacturers, helping our local Seattle economy retain manufacturing jobs.”

The U.S. Department of Labor cites over 50 percent of the sewing shops in the United States as sweatshops violating labor, environmental, and human rights laws and standards. The U.S. federal, state, and local governments spend approximately more than $10 billion annually on apparel procurement. The City currently spends approximately $1.3 million on uniforms for City employees.

As a result of the City Council’s unanimous request in 2009, the policy was developed by the Department of Executive Administration in collaboration with the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, the King County Labor Council, the Seattle Women’s Commission, and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. It was presented to Councilmember Licata’s Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee last week.

Click here for a copy of the policy.

July 2, 2010 at 11:10 pm Leave a comment

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