Posts Tagged ‘Stuart Appelbaum’

Pushing for Worker Safety

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Today, April 24, 2014, marks the tragic one-year anniversary of the worst disaster in garment industry history, the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1,129 workers.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan has taken an active role keeping this issue in the forefront.  He joined a delegation this past December that included New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, whose state pension investments include companies that contract with garment factories and Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union to Bangladesh to observe garment industry conditions and meet with survivors and the families of victims.  Msgr. Sullivan published his concerns on blog posts and more recently in a New York Times editorial co-authored with Mr. Appelbaum.

“All of us must help minimize the human casualties of our global economy and ensure that the dignity of working people doesn’t end up on the clearance rack,” they wrote.

In this recent episode of JustLove, Catholic Charities’ weekly radio show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, The Catholic Channel 129, Msgr. Sullivan spoke again with Comptroller DiNapoli.

“It was a very moving experience,” DiNapoli said about their trip to Bangladesh, “with you, from the spiritual dimension and me from the investor side with our perspective… about social justice and worker rights.”

While western retailers and apparel brands are now pushing to improve safety at the Bangladesh factories they do business with, results, twelve months later, have fallen short.

Inspectors, The New York Times reports, have found problems in every factory they checked including, “buildings so overloaded that their columns had cracked, flammable fabric storage areas adjoining work spaces and fire stairways leading to the factory floor rather than outside the building.”

Second only to China, Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry employs between three and four million workers.  Its history of corruption and slipshod work leaves open the potential for still greater loss of life.

“These heart-wrenching tragedies are not a sustainable business model,” Mr. DiNapoli said.  “They cannot keep this industry going if people are going to be maimed, injured or killed.”

Learn more on JustLove.

Read the full story in The New York Times

 

Preserving Human Dignity of Workers in Bangladesh and Beyond

Monday, January 6th, 2014

David Suter/New York Times

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, responded to The New York Times update on the tragic aftermath of world’s worst garment industry disaster in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 workers and maimed and impoverished countless more.

Check out their letter below.

Join us in ensuring “that the dignity of working people doesn’t end up on the clearance rack.”

“We recently traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh, to meet with survivors of the Rana Plaza factory collapse and their families,” Msgr. Sullivan and Mr. Applebaum wrote in their recently published New York Times Letter to the Editor.

“Your article echoes what they told us. They emphasized the need for greater financial compensation for their suffering. And they warned that unsafe conditions in garment factories could lead to more tragedies.

Americans regularly buy apparel made in Bangladesh. Responsible shopping here can create solidarity with workers there. Consumers can support retailers and brands that have joined the Accord on Fire and Building Safety to improve Bangladesh’s garment factories.

Workers who make the clothes Americans buy and wear cannot just be viewed as costs to control. That race to the bottom could only result in more lost lives.

All of us must help minimize the human casualties of our global economy and ensure that the dignity of working people doesn’t end up on the clearance rack.”

Msgr. Sullivan’s Trip to Bangladesh Continues to Resonate as We Approach Christmas

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Tomas Munita for The New York Times

“Adequate compensation for the disabilities and loss of life caused by the disasters along with safe building and working conditions were the major themes I heard from the garment factory workers in Bangladesh immediately after Thanksgiving.”

 Monsignor Kevin Sullivan

In a front-page story published just yesterday in The New York Times, reporter Jim Yardley documents how those living after the collapse are still struggling to make ends meet.   Even though the Bangladeshi government, local associations and overseas retailers have provided short-term compensation to survivors and loved ones, many still require financial support.

Last month, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan was invited to visit garment factories in Dhaka, Bangladesh with a delegation of New Yorkers that included Tom DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller, and Stuart Appelbaum the head of the RWDSU (Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.)

The delegation met with surviving workers of the Rana Plaza factory collapse as well as family members of those who perished, labor leaders and retailers tied to the factory. More than 1,100 workers’ lives were lost nearly eight months ago.

“Our trip was intended to meet with the various sectors involved in the garment industry, the workers themselves, organizers, brand names and government officials to learn about what was going on,”  Monsignor Sullivan told Catholic New York.  RanaPlaza survivors and family members of the workers killed had a number of concerns regarding reforming building and work space conditions and receiving adequate compensation from the disaster.

Read more survivors’ stories featured in The New York Times.