The collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in Bangladesh last April exposed the cruel link between abusive Global South factories and the Western brands they supply. But while consumers may have been shocked to learn of the Gap or Benetton‘s latest designs strewn amid the wreckage of “death trap” factories, they might have missed another bit of debris: the label of the U.S. government. In fact, much of the clothing churned out by overseas sweatshops is custom-made for Uncle Sam.
|By: fairleft Wednesday October 23, 2013 7:10 pm|
Are we willing to learn from the Bangladeshis? Our ‘middle-class’ American scene is crashing, but we don’t yet know how to protest .
|By: Michelle Chen Saturday June 29, 2013 1:00 pm|
The United States may lead the world in some measures of national wealth, but it is fiercely regressive when it comes to protecting the workers whose blood and sweat subsidize American lifestyles. Since the tragic factory collapse at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, which killed more than 1,100 people, many Western apparel brands have been shamed into addressing labor conditions in Bangladesh’s booming garment sector. Yet two U.S. giants, the Gap and Wal-Mart, remain deaf to the public outcry.
|By: DSWright Thursday June 13, 2013 11:05 am|
According to Pro Publica, Walmart accepted shipments from factories in Bangladesh unsafe for workers despite explicit promises not to. This violation of Walmart’s own stated policy comes shortly after the world’s attention fell on Bangladesh’s troubled manufacturing sector with the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,100 people.
|By: DSWright Friday June 7, 2013 11:45 am|
Workers in the Walmart Strike are heading to Bentonville, Arkansas to present their ideas for reforming Walmart’s business practices at the company’s annual meeting.
|By: Michelle Chen Wednesday May 29, 2013 12:10 pm|
It’s been about a month since the Rana Plaza factory complex crumbled into a cement grave for more than 1,100 Bangladeshi workers. Now, the dust has settled, but the anger still burns as workers await compensation and accountability from a manufacturing system that runs on industrial “death traps.”
But last week, at a meeting of the International Labour Organization, dozens of major global clothing brands—none based in the United States—announced they had signed onto a broad safety accord designed to be more comprehensive than previous corporate codes of conduct.
|By: Michelle Chen Saturday May 11, 2013 6:40 pm|
Bodies continue to pile up at Rana Plaza, once a powerhouse of Bangladesh’s garment industry, where more than 1,000 corpses have been unearthed since a factory collapse two weeks ago (and today, another survivor was discovered). Meanwhile, yet another disaster, a May 8 fire at the Tung Hai Sweater Factory in Dhaka’s Mirpur district, claimed eight additional lives. In total, the death toll since 2005 from fires and other preventable incidents at factories in Bangladesh now exceeds 1,500, according to garment-industry watchdogs—including more than 110 killed by a fire at the Wal-Mart-affiliated Tazreen factory in November.
|By: Michelle Chen Saturday April 27, 2013 11:30 am|
There are few ways to make a decent living in Bangladesh, but there are many ways to die trying. The cruel weight of that reality bore down on a Dhaka factory complex on Wednesday as it crashed to the ground and instantly extinguished hundreds of lives and livelihoods.
As of this writing, the body count at Rana Plaza is about 300 and rising, with hundreds more workers still unaccounted for, and the 72-hour emergency window for recovering trapped people alive almost gone.
|By: Michelle Chen Monday April 22, 2013 7:35 am|
Wal-Mart’s business model runs on the art of delusion. Clean aisles and bright decor insulate customers from the unseemly factories that produce the brand’s sought-after bargains. But when Wal-Mart’s label was found plastered all over the charred remains of a massive factory fire in Bangladesh last fall, the ugliness at the root of the retail giant’s supply chain was exposed.
|By: Michelle Chen Sunday December 23, 2012 8:07 am|
In a fashion industry where trends change by the minute, the lives of the workers who make the clothes are often valued as cheaply as the products they create. The devastating fire at the Tazreen factory in Bangladesh, which killed more than 110 people, is tied to what labor advocates describe as a powder keg: the manufacturing system in the Global South, where countless factories are one spark away from catastrophe.