Students Demand College-Logo Brands Join Fire and Safety Agreement

Students Demand College-Logo Brands Join Fire and Safety Agreement

Students Demand College-Logo Brands Join Fire and Safety Agreement

Three out of the four largest industrial disasters in the history of the garment industry have occurred in the past year alone.


This week United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) is holding demonstrations at more than thirty colleges and universities across the country as part of an International Week of Action to End Deathtraps commemorating the six-month anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh.

Students and workers are demanding that apparel brands who produce apparel for US universities sign on to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a legally binding agreement now signed by over 100 brands and retailers, promising greater protection for workers and a voice for unions in addressing deadly working conditions. To date, not a single college-producing apparel company has signed the agreement. Bangladeshi unions are also holding demonstrations at the site of Rana Plaza collapse.

“When a disaster like Rana Plaza happens it is important for us as students to remember the dead and fight with the living to ensure that apparel brands like VF Corporation and Adidas take responsibility for worker safety in their factories. These disasters are entirely preventable; it’s up to our university to require the brands we do business with to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord and end deathtrap factories in their supply chains,” said Katherine Corbit, a student at the University of Michigan.

Three out of the four largest industrial disasters in the history of the garment industry have occurred in the past year alone. Demonstrations this week are the latest in the “End Deathtraps” campaign spearheaded by United Students Against Sweatshops. USAS is holding die-ins, vigils, teach-ins and other demonstrations at colleges and universities across the United States, including New York University, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Pennsylvania State University, Cornell University, Duke University, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, Syracuse University, and the University of Southern California.

Meanwhile, a minority of US brands and retailers led by Gap, Walmart, and the VF Corporation in July attempted an end-run around greater regulation when they unveiled a corporate-run safety scheme called the “Alliance for Worker Safety.” Students and labor unions have slammed the program for its exclusion of worker representatives and lack of legally enforceability.

Attention College Students: Get six months of The Nation's digital edition absolutely free!

“We will demand our universities terminate contracts with any college-logo brand that joins Gap and Walmart in playing public relations games with workers’ lives. The stakes are too high for our universities to stand on the sidelines—we must require brands like VF Corporation and Adidas to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord, ” said Caitlin MacLaren, a student at New York University.

USAS is now gearing up for the next phase of its campaign to publicly shame companies that refuse to address safety conncerns.

Jason Motlagh writes about the lack of compensation for the families of Rana Plaza victims. 

Thank you for reading The Nation!

We hope you enjoyed the story you just read. It’s just one of many examples of incisive, deeply-reported journalism we publish—journalism that shifts the needle on important issues, uncovers malfeasance and corruption, and uplifts voices and perspectives that often go unheard in mainstream media. For nearly 160 years, The Nation has spoken truth to power and shone a light on issues that would otherwise be swept under the rug.

In a critical election year as well as a time of media austerity, independent journalism needs your continued support. The best way to do this is with a recurring donation. This month, we are asking readers like you who value truth and democracy to step up and support The Nation with a monthly contribution. We call these monthly donors Sustainers, a small but mighty group of supporters who ensure our team of writers, editors, and fact-checkers have the resources they need to report on breaking news, investigative feature stories that often take weeks or months to report, and much more.

There’s a lot to talk about in the coming months, from the presidential election and Supreme Court battles to the fight for bodily autonomy. We’ll cover all these issues and more, but this is only made possible with support from sustaining donors. Donate today—any amount you can spare each month is appreciated, even just the price of a cup of coffee.

The Nation does not bow to the interests of a corporate owner or advertisers—we answer only to readers like you who make our work possible. Set up a recurring donation today and ensure we can continue to hold the powerful accountable.

Thank you for your generosity.

Ad Policy