Ain't no free lunch in this country. Ain't no bargain prices either, unless someone's cutting costs. Globalization lets corporations ship jobs from countries with high labor costs (like decent wages and working conditions) to countries with low ones so Walmart shoppers get blue-light specials while workers in Bangladesh get crushed under factory buildings. Deal?
No deal, say the members of One Struggle, activists whose South Florida "Rapid Response Network" is demonstrating at the Walmart Super Center in Davie tomorrow morning, in support of workers in overseas factories that supply American retailers.
Galvanized by the April 24 collapse of an eight-story garment factory in Bangladesh that left 501 dead and more than 1,000 injured, the group, whose members include Bangladeshi expats, and acting in alliance with activists in Bangladesh, calls for "a living wage, safe working conditions, and the right to organize for all workers."
The April disaster comes on the heels of a November textile factory fire that left 112 Bangladeshi workers dead. And, prior to that, Walmart shareholders rejected a proposal to require suppliers to report annually on safety issues at their factories. That would have been a bad idea, Walmart management wrote, as it "could ultimately lead to higher costs for shareholders and customers and would place Walmart at a competitive disadvantage."
Just last week, Walmart, along with Gap and others, met with German labor organizers to attempt to reach an agreement on improved working conditions in Bangladesh. Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger had already signed on, but Walmart and the Gap have held out, refusing to make public the results of factory inspections.
As that -- along with One Struggle's "all workers" -- highlights, the problem is not confined to one corporation. Neither is it confined to one country. It is worldwide and involves a good share of the Fortune 500. One Struggle members traveled to Haiti last year in support of union organizers there, where garment workers receive the lowest wages in the Western Hemisphere, less than $5 a day, and where union organizing is a high-risk occupation.
One Struggle meets regularly in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Tomorrow's demonstration at Walmart's Davie store is at 11 a.m. Contact: Sarah Cruz, One Struggle Miami. Email: [email protected] Phone: 303-819-0927.