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Wall Street Journal Article Dismisses Poverty and Workers' Rights in Bangladesh

A Bangladeshi garment worker. Photo courtesy of the Solidarity Center.

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial, American Unions vs. Bangladesh's Workers (subscription only), dismisses poverty and workers' rights in a country where devastating garment factory fires have killed 119 people in recent months, which the Journal has reported on. The editorial makes several erroneous points about garment workers in Bangladesh, and the threat to remove the country's duty-free status because of workers' rights violations.  

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Bangladesh: Seven Women Dead in a Preventable Factory Fire

When Bangladesh garment workers seek to form unions, they often have been physically threatened or assaulted. Photo: Derek Blackadder

Seven young women, at least two of them teenagers, died over the weekend in a Bangladesh garment factory fire—the 28th fire incident to frighten, injure or kill Bangladeshi garment workers since a deadly blaze at the Tazreen Fashion factory killed at least 112 workers in late November, according to the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center staff in Bangladesh. At least 491 garment workers have been injured on the job since the Tazreen blaze, according to information compiled by the Solidarity Center. The Solidarity Center's mission is to help build a global labor movement by strengthening the economic and political power of workers around the world through effective, independent and democratic unions.

Bangladesh: Seven Women Dead in a Preventable Factory Fire originally appeared on the Solidarity Center's blog. 

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Walmart-Brand Clothes Found at Site of the Bangladesh Garment Factory Fire

Image courtesy of the International Labor Rights Forum via The Nation.

A deadly fire in a Bangladesh garment factory that killed at least 112 workers has been linked to Walmart. Photos from the scene of the fire show Faded Glory-brand clothing, an exclusive Walmart label it sells in stores. Walmart said in a statement the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. factory was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for them at the time of the fire, but that a supplier subcontracted work to it "in direct violation of our policies." The biggest retailer in the United States said they have terminated their relationship with the supplier. 

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Interview: Violence Rises against Bangladeshi Garment Workers

Babul Akhter and Kalpona Akter spoke about conditions in Bangladesh garment factories. Solidarity Center photo.

This is an excerpt from the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center's "INTERVIEW: Violence Rises against Bangladeshi Garment Workers."

The murder earlier this year of a Bangladeshi union organizer is part of an escalation of attacks on the nation’s 4 million garment workers who seek to change abusive working conditions, says Kalpona Akter, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity (BCWS).

Akter, who just ended a visit to the United States sponsored by Vanderbilt University and the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), worked closely with her BCWS colleague and factory union organizer, Aminul Islam, who was murdered earlier this year, his body found beaten and tortured. Islam also was a leader of Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF),  As recently as mid-September, Bangladesh police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at tens of thousands of garment workers rallying outside factories in an industrial area near Dhaka.

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Canton Working Families and Community Leaders say ‘Bring Jobs Home’

Americans say, "Bring Jobs Home"

Local unions, community leaders and working families rallied in Canton, Ohio, Monday at a Bring Jobs Home event after an announcement that TTI Floor Care vacuum bag plant will close all local production of Hoover vacuum bags. The rally addressed different ways elected officials can create good jobs and rebuild local communities hit hard by the recession. The United Steelworkers (USW), Electrical Workers (IBEW Local 1985) and the Hall of Fame Central Labor Council took part.

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Report from Cambodia: Workers Gaining Rights as Country Heals

The Solidarity Center's David Welsh (center) marches with Cambodian union members at a May Day rally. Photo by CLC

Last year, after the June Textiles garment factory in Cambodia burned down, the 4,000 workers—some of whom had put in 18 years on the job—were offered $20 each in compensation for losing their livelihoods. Period.

That’s when the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center stepped in, working with the factory’s new owner, H&M, and through the country’s legal system, ultimately winning an unprecedented settlement that ensured they could support their families. 

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250,000 Sign Petition to Apple to End Slave Conditions at Its Suppliers

Outraged at the inhumane treatment of workers in China who make iPads, iPhones and other Apple products, protesters visited a half-dozen Apple stores around the world yesterday to deliver petitions calling for reforms in the working conditions at factories run by Apple’s suppliers, accroding to Democracy Now!

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iSlaves: Forced Labor Key to Apple Profits

More horrors out now from the Chinese serf-labor system involved in creating Apple products like iPads and iPhones. It turns out many of the workers churning out millions of the devices in unendurable conditions at Foxconn and other factories are also forced laborers as young as 16.

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Apple’s Profit Skyrockets, Workers Die at Its Factories

Hours after Apple released its first quarter earnings, which showed a mind-blowing 44.7 percent profit, The New York Times published another in a series of articles illustrating some of the reasons behind Apple’s profit margin. Describing the conditions in which Chinese workers assemble iPhones, iPads and a panoply of Apple products, the report states:

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Philip Levine: Reflecting the Poet’s Vision of Working in America

When the nation’s Poet Laureate, Philip Levine, gives a reading of his work tomorrow here at the AFL-CIO, he will recite poems that weave a lyrical web of words around his visceral understanding of the world of work. Levine, whom the Library of Congress named Poet Laureate in May, and who has written of his experiences working in Detroit factories in the post-World War II years, finds his verses especially resonate with America’s workers—and that’s in part because his portrayals are so honest. (To attend the event, which begins at 1 p.m. Nov. 15, RSVP here.)

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