Penn requires apparel producers to promote factory safety

The accord follows the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1,129

· December 5, 2013, 8:07 pm   ·  Updated December 5, 2013, 8:26 pm

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In response to a petition signed by 400 students, Penn announced today that it would require all companies that produce Penn collegiate apparel to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

The accord is a response to numerous fatal accidents at clothing factories in Bangladesh including the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1,129 people.

Manufacturers that sign the accord must develop an implementation plan for fire and building safety within 45 days of signing. They then have five years to implement the resulting plans.

Related: SLAP to host event for garment worker awareness

Penn is one of the first universities to take this step.

Duke University announced in October that it would require its licensees to sign and abide by the accord, and since its creation, students on many college campuses, including the University of North Carolina, New York University and University of Michigan, have asked their administrations to sign and support the accord.

Penn’s Student Labor Action Project has spearheaded the campaign on Penn’s campus this fall, holding a vigil and a teach-in about the issue earlier this semester before launching their petition. The petition was reviewed by Penn’s Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility, which “unanimously voted to approve a resolution that encouraged the University to make this decision,” the announcement said.

Related: SLAP petitions Penn to better workplace safety

Clara Hendrickson, a college sophomore who was actively involved in planning the petition, is “really excited that Penn is taking the lead … this means that other universities will have reason to support the accord.”

She noted that SLAP was disappointed that the University did not give Penn licensees a strict deadline for signing the accord. While the petition set a deadline of 14 days, Penn’s announcement states that licensees must “abide by [the accord’s] requirements as soon as possible.”

However, the announcement did note that in the future, companies that “source, produce or purchase collegiate apparel in Bangladesh” will have to sign the accord in order to gain a license to manufacture Penn apparel or have their license renewed.

“I’m so glad that my University is leading the pack on this,” Hendrickson added.

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