One Year After Rana Plaza Collapse, AU Could Stand for Worker Safety

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The one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse is one week away, and 16 universities across the US have already required their apparel brands — including notorious worker rights abuser VF Corporation — to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord, a legally-binding contract between unions and brands designed to end deathtrap factory conditions. However, American University continues to refuse to do the right thing to guarantee worker safety and require our brands to sign the Accord.

Stand with Bangladeshi workers: use the form on the left to send a message to the president of American University, who needs a little extra push from people like you to do the right thing for worker safety.

Since last fall, the AU End Deathtraps Coalition has been campaigning hard to get President Kerwin to require brands to sign the Accord. We have collected over 500 petition signatures from AU students, faculty, alumni, and community members and kept the university aware of our actions through a variety of letter deliveries and actions. After holding a well-attended Bangladeshi Worker Speak-Out in which organizer Kalpona Akter and Rana Plaza survivor Reba Sikder spoke about their experiences, we were allowed to make a presentation to our university’s Committee on Socially Responsible Business Practices at the beginning of March.

It has been over a month since our presentation and despite a positive recommendation from the committee and assurances from the president’s office that things are “moving in a positive direction,” the administration seems determined to stall, even after we were informed that a decision would be made last Friday. This is unacceptable. Our coalition has sent a letter to President Kerwin demanding a decision by April 24th, the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse and so far, have received no response.

We’ve been told by a variety of sources that our administration is leaning towards doing the right thing, but the continued lack of communication means that we must take action to push President Kerwin to make AU join the 16 other universities who have already required their brands to sign the Accord. Our USAS local will be taking action on our campus, but we need your help to put pressure on President Kerwin and show our university that this is a cause with widespread support.

Can we count on your support? Send an email to the President Kerwin letting him know that now is the time to stand up for worker safety in Bangladesh.

We think that AU joining the ranks of colleges standing up for worker safety would be the perfect way to remember the tragedy at Rana Plaza. We believe that with students fighting for justice on their campuses and Bangladeshi workers protesting in the streets of Dhaka, we will beat VF Corporation and other companies who have refused to take responsibility for worker safety.

In solidarity,

Katie Plank
Student Worker Alliance
USAS Local #34, American University