Bangladesh- Two Agreements: One Real, One Counterfeit

by Paul Garver

Editor’s Note: This article was submitted to the Democratic Left magazine’s labor issue but for reasons of space only is published as a blog post. Two other articles submitted to the magazine will follow in the next few weeks, as well as articles that also appear in the printed version.

Global retailers and brand name clothiers in Europe and the USA have taken advantage of unscrupulous local manufacturers, weak and unenforced labor laws and a corrupt political system to contract garment manufacture for their global supply chains.  Facing the terrible consequences in thousands of deaths from the factory building collapse at Rana Plaza in Dhaka and the Tazreen factory fire, Bangladesh garment workers have begun to mobilize themselves, despite the virtual absence of national unions or an enforceable right to organize.

There are major differences between two strategies developed to address the most glaring worker safety and organizing issues – the “Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh” signed by most European retail chains and fashion brands with global unions IndustriALL and UNI and the unilateral declaration by American companies led by Gap, Target and Walmart of an “Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.”   The Accord is being implemented by a joint committee representing companies and unions, chaired by a representative of the ILO.  Disputes will be resolved by an arbitration process enforceable at law. The Alliance represents a continuation of unilateral voluntary company initiatives that have spectacularly failed to achieve any tangible results despite past promises. The Bangladesh workers’ movement, the AFL-CIO and the global unions, as well as the European and American campaign organizations in solidarity with garment workers (Clean Clothes Campaign, United Students against Sweatshops, Worker Rights Consortium, Bangladesh Workers Solidarity Network, Maquila Solidarity Network), urge American consumers to pressure Gap, Walmart and Target to abandon their phony public relations ploy and to join the innovative broad multilateral Accord that will provide leverage for Bangladesh garment workers to organize to improve their working and safety conditions.

 Paul_2).jpgPaul Garver, a member of DSA’s National Political Committee, is a retired global union organizer and co-editor of Talking Union.

 

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 82 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 47 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

Instructor:

Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <schmittaj@gmail.com> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 19 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.