You may recall that one week ago, clothing retailer JC Penney got the blogosphere all riled up with their printed tee for girls reading, “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” Chances are that t-shirt, which has since been pulled from stock, was made in Bangladesh, where in December 2010 “a tragic and preventable fire at a factory claimed the lives of 30 workers” who spent their days making clothes for seven American companies: Abercrombie & Fitch, GAP Inc. (parent company of Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy), Target, Carters Inc. (owner of the brands Carters and Osh Kosh B’Gosh), the Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation (who make Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger), the VF Corporation (manufactures of The North Face and Wrangler and Lee jeans) and JC Penney, according to Change.org.
In January, all seven companies agreed to compensate the families of the workers who died in the fire — “a fire that could have been averted had the factory adhered to rigorous safety standards” — thanks to the efforts of Change.org members and the International Labor Rights Forum. Now, Change.org reports, JC Penney “has gone back on its promise to help — its team has walked away from the negotiating table.”
According to Change.org, “The only reason JC Penney is walking away from negotiations now is that they think no one will notice. They got their good press by promising to help, and now they’re breaking their word, free and clear. It’s imperative that we show them — and the other six companies still negotiating — that if they don’t follow through on their promise to fairly compensate the victims’ families and improve their fire safety, there will be consequences.”
This story hits home with me because I have purchased many clothing items for my daughter from both JC Penney and Target, but I don’t want to support this kind of mistreatment of laborers abroad. If you care about this issue and want to send JC Penney a message, namely that Americans want affordable clothing for their children that doesn’t insult our intelligence or kill foreign workers, sign this Change.org petition today, and spread the word.