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.

 

Lessons in Organizing from the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union

January 17, 2017
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Join DSA Vice-Chair Chris Riddiough to explore what we can learn from the work of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union (1969-77), the largest of the socialist feminist women’s unions of the 1970s, which had a rock band, a graphics collective, the underground abortion collective JANE, and numerous other projects. Check out their website and join the discussion via internet connection.

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
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The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
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Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 7 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

DSA New Member Orientation Call

February 15, 2017
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You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 6 PM MT; 5 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
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Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But check out their short the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
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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.