- Meet Wal-Mart’s worst nightmare
- A top Bangladesh labor leader slams retailers, issues a plea to consumers, and explains why her life is in danger
- California Wal-Mart workers strike today, following stunning Florida victory
- These Kmart Workers Say They Can't Even Take Thanksgiving Off
Josh Eidelson, Salon
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Kalpona Akter (Credit: Alan Jacobsen/The Sidney Hillman Foundation)
Thursday, Nov 7, 2013 | Fired while trying to unionize her sweatshop as a teenager and then jailed while mobilizing other workers to resist, Kalpona Akter is now a key leader in the Bangladesh labor movement – a cause cast into an intermittent spotlight by horrific disasters and mass strikes. Over the past year, Akter — now executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity — has salvaged and exposed U.S. brands’ garments from the site of a deadly factory fire, challenged Wal-Mart from the floor of its shareholder meeting, and sought to transform the fashion industry by organizing in concert with U.S. fashion models. (Wal-Mart has blamed production of Wal-Mart apparel in factories where disasters later took place on rogue suppliers, and said in July that the industry-backed safety plan it helped instigate “will move quickly and decisively to create uniform safety standards.”)
I sat down with Akter last week in New York, where she had addressed a conference. In an hour-long conversation, we discussed the alleged murder of her activist colleague, what role Western companies and customers play in shaping Bangladesh working conditions, and what connects Bangladesh garment sweatshops and U.S. fashion photo shoots. What follows is an edited and condensed version of our conversation.
Josh Eidelson covers politics, labor, and inequality as a reporter for Salon. His work has appeared at outlets including The Washington Post, Reuters, Slate, Dissent, and The American Prospect. His reporting on the Walmart strike wave for The Nation received a Sidney award from the Sidney Hillman Foundation.
California Wal-Mart workers strike today, following stunning Florida victory, Josh Eidelson, Salon
West Coast Wal-Mart workers walk off the job as the union-backed campaign says Florida strikers won major changes
These Kmart Workers Say They Can't Even Take Thanksgiving Off, Jillian Berman, Huffington Post
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