To: Rebecca Blank, Chancellor, University of Wisconsin - Madison

University of Wisconsin: Don't let Bangladeshi garment workers die making Badger apparel

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Don’t let corporations continue to profit off of deadly working conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry. Require UW licensees to sign onto the Accord on Fire and Building Safety now to protect the workers who produce apparel for UW-Madison.

Why is this important?

After months of ignoring the concerns of UW students, Chancellor Rebecca Blank has said she will decide within days whether to take real steps to protect garment workers in Bangladesh who produce UW apparel. We know she’s under tremendous pressure from massive apparel conglomerates like VF Corporation and Walmart to let them get away with a weak corporate-dominated initiative known as “the Alliance” that would continue to endanger workers. Join us in asking Blank to take a real stand for workers by requiring UW licensees sign onto the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh instead.

Let Blank know that UW needs to take a stand for garment workers who produce UW products, and we will not settle for empty corporate schemes.

On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh killing 1,134 workers — the worst factory disaster in history. The Bangladeshi government has admitted that an estimated 90% of Bangladesh’s garment factories are not structurally sound. Just this past Thursday, March 6th, another fire broke out at a factory in Dhaka just 40 minutes after workers had left for the day.

Currently, 21 companies that produce UW-Madison licensed products source out of Bangladesh. Since last September, students have been running a campaign to “End Deathtraps,” asking the university to require UW licensees to sign onto the Accord on Fire and Building Safety. Additionally, the university’s Labor Codes Licensing Compliance Committee has advised her to require brands to sign the Accord.

The Accord is a binding agreement between unions and brands that allows workers to have a voice in health and safety issues and be directly involved in independent, certified factory inspections. It holds brands accountable for the factories from which they source, and requires them to pay for necessary renovations and repairs.

Ten universities across the US have already required their licensees to sign onto the Accord, including Duke, Penn State, and NYU. However, UW Chancellor Blank has turned a blind eye to this urgent issue.

Let her know that it would be a huge mistake to do anything other than require that our licensees sign onto the Accord.

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