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One Year Later, Garment Workers in Bangladesh Continue to Suffer

13913072815_7441033834_zOne year ago, on April 24, our sisters and brothers who worked at the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh were told to report to work in a building that had severe structural cracks and over 1,100 workers lost their lives when the building collapsed.

While decades of struggle by workers and their unions have resulted in significant improvements in working conditions, too many workers here in the U.S. and around the world continue to be killed on the job, or suffer from injuries, sickness or diseases in their places of work.  In Bangladesh alone, thousands of workers continue to work in dangerous conditions and for meager wages, and survivors of the Rana Plaza tragedy are still suffering from their injuries and loss of income.

One year after this tragedy, big retailers like Walmart have still refused to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Instead, the company has promoted its own alternative absent of enforcement mechanisms or meaningful worker input.

Workers everywhere deserve a safe place to work, and corporations like Walmart that exploit workers for profit and put them in danger must be held accountable.  As the UFCW observes the anniversary of this terrible tragedy, we also reaffirm our dedication to supporting workers here in the U.S. and around the world who are struggling to protect their basic rights – including the right to unite for safe workplace conditions and decent wages.

One Year After Deadly Factory Collapse, Workers Still Fighting for Compensation

Jobs With Justice coalition members delivered letters to store managers calling on Walmart to compensate injured workers and their families, sign the safety Accord, and respond to the concerns of workers throughout its supply chain.

Jobs With Justice coalition members delivered letters to store managers calling on Walmart to compensate injured workers and their families, sign the safety Accord, and respond to the concerns of workers throughout its supply chain.

On April 24th last year, garment workers in a Bangladeshi factory were reassured that the cracks that had appeared in the walls the previous day where they were working had been repaired. Just an hour later, the building collapsed, killing 1,138 people and injuring at least 2,500. Two of the factories in the building have been linked to production of Walmart goods.

One year after this tragedy, Walmart has still refused to sign on to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Instead, the company has promoted its own alternative which lacks enforcement mechanisms or meaningful worker input.

Workers and organizations will be holding a week of action calling on Walmart to finally address issues in its supply chain and sign the Accord. UNI Global will hold events across four continents on April 24th, and students and activists across the country will take action through United Students Against Sweatshops and the International Labor Rights Forum. Locals wanting to participate in the actions to be held on April 24th at Walmart stores and Walmart offices can find more information at http://bit.ly/RanaActionInfo.

Jobs With Justice also held a web conference for workers’ rights advocates from three continents. It featured representatives from Asia Floor Wage Alliance, Bangladesh Institute for Labour Studies, Clean Clothes Campaign, Cambodian Labor and Education Center, National Guestworker Alliance, OUR Walmart, and Warehouse Workers for Justice.

Jobs With Justice coalition members will also deliver letters to store managers across the country calling on Walmart to compensate the injured workers and their families, sign the Accord, and hear the concerns of workers throughout its supply chain.

In June of 2013, Making Change at Walmart supporters generously raised funds to bring former garment worker and Bangladeshi labor activist Kalpona Akter to speak at Walmart’s shareholders meeting. Despite a history fraught with the violent suppression of labor activists in the Bangladeshi garment industry, Akter challenged Walmart to provide safer work facilities and more oversight in their supply chain. Her shareholder proposal was voted down by shareholders – a majority of those shares belong to the Walton family.

The International Labor Rights Forum also released an in-depth report on the tragedies in the Bangladeshi garment factories. The report can be read at http://bit.ly/WaitingReport.

AFL-CIO Releases 2014 Executive PayWatch Series

The AFL-CIO 2014 Executive PayWatch report shows that the U.S. CEOs were paid 331 times more than the average worker.

The AFL-CIO 2014 Executive PayWatch report shows that the U.S. CEOs were paid 331 times more than the average worker.

Last week, the AFL-CIO unveiled the 2014 Executive PayWatch report. According to the data, U.S. CEOs pocketed, on average, $11.7 million in 2013 compared to the average worker who earned $35,293. That means CEOs were paid 331 times that of the average worker.

Many of the CEOs highlighted in PayWatch head companies like Walmart. In 2013, CEOs made 774 times more than those who work for minimum wage. And while many of these companies argue that they can’t afford to raise wages, the nation’s largest companies are earning higher profits per employee than they did five years ago. In 2013, the S&P 500 Index companies earned $41,249 in profits per employee, a 38% increase.

This year, PayWatch highlights five low wage companies through worker testimonials at Walmart, Kellogg’s, Reynolds, Darden Restaurants and T-Mobile.

“CEO Executive PayWatch calls attention to the insane level of compensation for CEOs, while the workers who create those corporate profits struggle for enough money to take care of the basics,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “This database is relevant to every community in the country. And we’ll use this data to organize and mobilize to lift millions of workers out of poverty and to strengthen the middle class,” said Trumka.

PayWatch can be found at http://bit.ly/PayWatch2014. PayWatch is a comprehensive searchable online database tracking the excessive pay of CEOs of the nation’s largest companies.