For Immediate Release
Press contact: Michelle Flores, 714-944-3422, firstname.lastname@example.org
More info: www.99pickets.org, www.laborrights.org/safety
New York, NY: On Monday, May 27 at 2:30pm, Occupy Wall Street offshoot 99 Pickets and other worker rights activists will visit several New York City retail stores to “hold U.S. retailers accountable for their inaction” in response to the deaths of over 1,200 workers killed in recent Bangladesh garment factory disasters. A significant portion of clothing carried by U.S. retailers is made by Bangladeshi workers. 99 Pickets, echoing other organizations such as the International Labor Rights Forum, United Students against Sweatshops and others, is calling for U.S. retailers to sign on to the “Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh”.
The group writes in on their webpage, “It has been estimated that a mere $0.10 more per garment would pay for the factory improvements of this program. Is 10 cents per garment too much for worker safety? Walmart, K-Mart, Gap, Target, JC Penny, and other U.S. retailers say ‘yes’. We say ‘no more bloodshed!’”
The Accord is a new agreement between several global union federations and 40 prominent apparel and retail companies that was negotiated in the wake of the tragic Rana Plaza building collapse in April that claimed the lives of over 1,100 workers and the Tazreen Factory Fire last November where over 100 workers died. Several European corporations have signed on, including H&M, Carrefour, and others, but in the United States almost none have participated.
The new agreement requires companies to participate in and fund a program of independent safety inspections, remediation, and worker safety trainings with the involvement of trade unions. They must also maintain commercial terms that enable factories to maintain safe workplaces and finance repairs. The program will be overseen by an equal number of representatives of trade unions and companies, and enforced through binding arbitration. This legal liability for dangerous conditions in factories manufacturing the corporations’ garments is often is U.S. retailer’s primary objection to the Accord.
Though details of the Memorial Day action are not being made public, 99 Pickets writes that it will “demonstrate at several prominent retail and apparel chain stores to call attention to the dangerous conditions in thousands of apparel factories in Bangladesh, ” stating that Monday’s event is only the latest in a series of actions “in solidarity with the three million apparel workers of Bangladesh” in May and June.
99 Pickets, a working group from Occupy Wall Street, seeks to build a mass worker’s movement in New York City and beyond. We are workers, immigrants, artists, the unemployed, students and retirees: the 99%.
Revitalizing the picket line—a tactic with a long and rich history—we use worker-driven, creative action to draw attention to the common struggles of people across the city.
From wage theft, discrimination, abusive employers, food justice, misclassification, exploitative working conditions, retaliation for organizing, to unsafe workplaces, 99 Pickets strives to connect the dots between seemingly isolated conflicts, building a community and a movement to counter the 1%.
Another city is possible, but we need to build it.