Cornell Stops Sale of Apparel Linked to Labor Abuse in Bangladesh

Cornell Sweatfree Coalition is “thrilled” that the University is supporting the Accord...

The Cornell Store (University Photo/Jason Koski)
The Cornell Store (University Photo/Jason Koski)

By Sofia Hu via The Cornell Daily Sun, 2/13/14

Cornell will be the sixth university to require its apparel licensees to abide by the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a five year agreement between apparel companies and Bangladeshi unions which legally binds its signatories to create safe working environments, the University announced Wednesday.”

The Accord was created in response to the fatal collapse of Rana Plaza, an eight story commercial building outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, on April 24, which killed over 1,120 workers. The signatories have agreed to develop and support a fire and safety program to prevent future incidences, according to the Accord.

“We believe the Accord is a fair, transparent and unbiased approach to factory inspection and remediation. It is clear that the inspection practices that have been in place for years have not been effective in preventing these types of tragedies,” President David Skorton said in the press release.”

According to the Accord’s website, over 150 companies from 20 countries are signatories, including major apparel manufacturers like H&M, American Eagle and Adidas.”

Out of Cornell’s 18 apparel providers that have disclosed factories in Bangladesh, seven have signed the Accord, Mike Powers, director of Product Licensing for Cornell, said. The University has sent letters to the remaining companies who have not signed the Accord, according to the University press release.”

“Following Cornell’s decision, a number of our licensees moved quickly and signed the Accord. Non-compliance would be grounds for terminating our contract,” Molly Beckhardt ’14, a member of the Licensing Oversight Committee and Cornell Sweatfree Coalition, said.”

Several student organizations formed a coalition that reviewed the Accord and recommended the University adopt it, the Cornell Organization for Labor Action said in a press release. The coalition, which includes COLA, Cornell Sweatfree Coalition and cultural groups, hosted several advocacy events in support of the Accord.”

Beckhardt also said the Cornell Sweatfree Coalition is “thrilled” that the University is supporting the Accord.”

“This is a critical and trend-setting step towards eliminating death traps,” she said. “It’s unacceptable for workers to fear for their lives in unsound, death trap factories as they sew our Cornell hoodies and sweatshirts.”

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