SLAP to host event for garment worker awareness
SLAP hopes to enact labor reforms for producers of Penn apparel
October 16, 2013, 6:32 pm · Updated October 16, 2013, 6:48 pm·
Most Penn students who purchase name-brand school apparel adorned with Penn logos probably don’t question the origins of their newly acquired sprit-wear.
Members of the Student Labor Action Project, however, are seeking to end this lack of awareness with their latest event — the End Deathtraps Campaign Teach-In — to be held tonight at 8 p.m. in Huntsman Hall, room 225.
The event serves as a response to the tragedy that struck thousands of garment workers in Bangladesh last April when the Rana Plaza textile factory collapsed. The catastrophe left more than 1,000 people dead and more than 2,000 injured.
By holding the teach-in, SLAP aims to inform the student body about unsafe working conditions for apparel industry laborers in Bangladesh and “create a tool to mobilize students to get involved with the issue,” College sophomore and SLAP member Clara Hendrickson said.
Because many of the companies that manufacture Penn apparel operate out of Bangladeshi factories, SLAP’s main goal for its End Deathtraps Campaign is to ensure that these companies sign on to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. This internationally recognized measure regulates safety standards for textile factories in Bangladesh so that disasters like the Rana Plaza collapse don’t become a continued occurrence.
Attendees of the teach-in will learn how they can help to make this objective a reality by joining SLAP’s effort to persuade the administration to issue an ultimatum to producers of Penn apparel. The proposition would stipulate that should the businesses refuse to accept the terms of the Accord within a two-week period, their contracts with Penn would be terminated.
SLAP has held similar teach-ins and panels in the past to educate the Penn community on their mission to promote economic justice as well as its other projects, including the labor and food justice initiative, Justice on the Menu.
Although SLAP has been active in working to secure labor reforms for employees of companies such as Bon Appetit and AlliedBarton on campus, the upcoming teach-in marks the group’s first venture into dealing with an international cause.
The move in this direction was facilitated by SLAP’s recent success in helping to unionize a cluster of dining hall personnel employed by Bon Appetit. “We just won our Justice on the Menu Campaign, so now we have the capacity to take on an international issue, and it is a pivotal moment in the garment industry, so everything just lined up,” College junior and SLAP member Chloe Sigal said.
SLAP’s commitment to improving the working environments in Bangladesh is a prime example of how many Penn students strive to leave a positive impact on global society. “This is our way of using our time at Penn and our power as customers to make a difference in the world,” Hendrickson said.