Brothers and Sisters:
Over the past week, I have watched in horror as more and more workers’ bodies were pulled from Rana Plaza in Bangladesh.
Thousands of garment workers, struggling to support their families on 18-26 cents an hour, were intentionally sent to work in an unsafe building.
More than 360 workers are dead, hundreds more suffer injuries that will prevent them from working again, and countless others are still missing.
At the end of April, the Bangladesh government called off the search for survivors. Knowing that factory inspections were infrequent and inadequate, Bangladesh and international labor unions presented a proposal in 2011 to international retailers who profit from the Bangladesh garment industry, including Wal-Mart, Gap and H&M, to create an independent inspectorate to assess safety conditions at garment factories.
“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”
-John F. Kennedy
The proposal asked these multi-billion dollar corporations to pay only $500,000 per year each to fund the independent inspectorate.
Wal-Mart’s response to the proposal was that it was "not financially feasible ... to make such investments," according to minutes of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press.
Not financially feasible? This from a corporation with sales of $466.1 billion in fiscal year 2013 and net income of $17 billion?
There are 3.6 million garment workers in Bangladesh. An annual contribution of $500,000 on behalf of 3.6 million workers is 14 cents per worker.
Your Union has long advocated against shopping at Wal-Mart, not only because of their anti-labor practices, but because Wal-Mart puts profits over people.
If you continue to shop at Wal-Mart, you need to do so knowing that the 14 cents you are saving on that pair of socks could have been invested in saving a human life.
Tracey A. Thompson