20 Students Arrested at Rockville REI Protesting Sweatshop Conditions

Sunday, July 27, 2014

20 Students Arrested at Rockville REI Protesting Sweatshop Conditions(Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO)

Over 20 students and REI members were arrested at the Rockville REI store Saturday as part of a national day of action at over 30 REI stores across the country. At issue is REI’s refusal to sever ties with The North Face, an apparel brand embroiled in international controversy over its workers rights violations in Bangladesh. This response has sparked a national campaign by United Students Against Sweatshops to demand that REI cut ties with The North Face. The North Face and its parent company, VF Corporation, are implicated in a litany of factory disasters, including a fire in 2010 where 29 workers were killed, along with other sweatshop abuses across the globe. “I’m fed up with REI pretending it cares about social responsibility, while at the same time defending The North Face’s serial workers rights abuses,” said Deanna Nagle, a Penn State University student. “This blatant hypocrisy shows that REI has lost sight of its values in order to generate profit at any cost.” Students are demanding that REI terminate its relationship with The North Face over the company’s refusal to sign a legally-binding contract between apparel brands and garment worker unions called the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. This contract has been signed by over 175 brands and retailers from 20 countries, including Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Sean John, Abercrombie & Fitch, and holds the promise of putting an end to the mass fatality disasters in the Bangladeshi garment industry. Students argue that last month’s fire in a North Face/VF factory where several workers were injured and hospitalized further demonstrates the urgent need for REI to take a stronger stance against The North Face. “How many more fires have to occur in The North Face/VF factories before REI sees the hollowness of the company’s empty promises? How many more garment workers have to earn poverty wages, while producing overpriced North Face jackets sold at REI stores?” asked Julia Wang, USAS International Campaigns Coordinator. “Workers are not accepting these abuses – they’re fighting back. Students are putting everything on the line at REI stores to stand with them.” The REI National Day of Action was the latest mobilization in students’ ongoing campaign against The North Face/VF. Since September, VF has lost at least 16 university licensing contracts over the company’s failure to comply with these university’s expectations for labor rights. Recently, the National Football League Players Association wrote to VF, an NFL licensee, in support of USAS’ campaign demanding the company sign the Accord.


Powered by Orchid Suites
Orchid ver. 4.7.6.