Rep. George Miller (D- Contra Costa County), the senior Democratic member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, issued the following statement today after the death toll from an April 25 Bangladeshi garment facility collapse surpassed 1,000 workers, making it one of the worst industrial tragedies in history. A Bangladeshi woman was found alive today in the rubble after two weeks, and thousands of other workers were injured in the collapse. Miller has a long history of working in Congress to combat sweatshops and improve working conditions in garment factories both in the U.S. and abroad.
"Today I'm reiterating my call for major fashion retailers and brands to sign onto a binding and enforceable fire & building safety agreement to make garment factories safer for the millions of Bangladeshi workers who make clothes that Americans love to wear. Companies like Wal-Mart, Gap, J.C. Penney, H & M and others have a moral responsibility to end business-as-usual for their supplier factories in Bangladesh and sign an agreement that is specific, enforceable, funded and fully transparent.
"As so often happens after a tragedy, those responsible hope that time passes and people's memories fade. But the fashion brands and retailers need to know that we are not going away, because the real tragedy is that deadly incidents occur in Bangladesh on a regular basis and it is only the retailers and brands that can put a floor under the race to the bottom that has led to unsafe factories. Right now, they must join other brands, unions and civil society groups in reaching a final agreement, and begin the very affordable process of making their supplier factories safer. If they fail to sign an enforceable agreement, they are declaring that they accept blood on their labels."
Miller has called on several companies, including Wal-Mart, GAP, Benetton, and The Children's Place, to join the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement. He penned a front-page editorial on Women's Wear Daily to urge the fashion industry to come together and improve conditions in Bangladesh. Miller and Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, have also urged the Obama administration to coordinate action to improve workers' rights and working conditions in Bangladesh.