On April 24 we celebrated Arts Walk in the streets and businesses of Olympia. That day was also the second anniversary of Rana Plaza sweatshop garment factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 garment workers.
In recent sweatshop fires and collapses, more than 1,865 lives have been lost in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Human rights abuses of workers continue at places under contract with U.S. and British companies such as Gap, Children’s Place, Walmart and others.
According to The Center for American Progress wages for garment workers have significantly declined from 2001 to 2011 in 15 of the world’s largest clothes exporting countries. Their 2011 study shows garment workers in Bangladesh made about $91.45 monthly – $3 per day. Garment workers in Cambodia made approximately $126.26 monthly, followed by China ($324.90 per month). Note: These are not living wages in those countries and conditions are dangerous and hours can be 16 or more per day.
On March 9, 2004, the city of Olympia issued Resolution No. M-1545. It stated: City will implement sweatshop-free purchasing guidelines. But how is Olympia doing on that now that 11 years have passed?
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There are alternative sources for clothes made with living wages from Alta Gracia in Dominican Republic to Marigold online to the Traditions store on Fifth and Water streets in Olympia. Rev. Martin Luther King taught us that injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Using that, can’t we do better?