community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
Pittsburghers in Solidarity with Bangladeshi garment workers
by Matt Toups Sunday, Oct. 17, 2004 at 6:10 PM
email@example.com (email address validated)
The Bangladesh Workers' Tour stopped in Pittsburgh this past weekend on the national tour organized by the National Labor Committee (a US group) and the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) of Bangladesh. They're touring the US to bring attention to the nearly 1.8 million women who work in the sweatshops of Bangladesh to produce apparel for export. The event was hosted by the Pittsburgh Anti-Sweatshop Community Alliance.
Above: On the left is Mongezi Nkomo, a South African freedom fighter who has founded Azania Heritage International here in Pittsburgh, PA. In the center, holding the Willie Stargell Figurine is Sheikh Nazma, President of the Bangladesh Center For Workers Solidarity. On the far rights is Michelle Gaffey, an organizer with the Pittsburgh Anti-Sweatshop Community Alliance.
The Bangladesh Workers' Tour stopped in Pittsburgh this past weekend on the US tour organized by the National Labor Committee (a US group) and the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF) of Bangladesh. They're touring the US to bring attention to the nearly 1.8 million women who work in the sweatshops of Bangladesh to produce apparel for export.
Workers from Bangladesh spoke to a group at Duquesne University, which recently joined the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent sweatshop monitoring group. Carnegie Mellon and 127 other universities are affilitated with the WRC; activists at the University of Pittsburgh are encouraging Pitt to join as well.
Later Saturday afternoon the workers held a rally on Freedom Corner in the Hill District. Representatives from labor, student, immigrant and civil rights groups offered their solidaritry to the workers.
Numerous local organizations and unions co-sponsored the event, including: the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2459, Black and White Reunion, Center for Interpretive and Qualitative Research (Duquesne U.), Duquesne Graduate Student Organization, Graphic Communications International (GCIU) Union Local 23, Industrial Workers of the World - Pittsburgh, PA General Membership Branch, International Socialist Organization, People for Workers Rights (Carnegie Mellon U.), Mon Valley Unemployed Committee, Student and Faculty Social Justice Committee (Duquesne U.), Students in Solidarity (University of Pittsburgh), Western PA Labor and Religion Coalition AFL-CIO.
Kenneth Miller, original organizer of the No Sweatshops Bucco! Campaign, said "we view workers in Pittsburgh in solidarity, not competition, with workers in other parts of the world."
Freedom Corner has served as a focal point for civil rights movements since the 1960s.
On the right is Barney Oursler of the Mon Valley Unemployed Committee.
audio link: MP3 at 310.4 kibibytesFlash player: Embed this audio player:
Rafiq Alam served as interpreter for the Bangledeshi workers tour. With Bangledeshi workers, he helped win maternity leave campaign and worked on relief efforts to help flood victims. Mr. Alam spoke to us on Freedom Corner Saturday about garment factories in Bangladesh.
Mongezi Sefika wa Nkomo of Azania Heritage International speaks
by Matt Toups Sunday, Oct. 17, 2004 at 6:10 PM
audio link: MP3 at 440.7 kibibytesFlash player: Embed this audio player:
Mongezi Sefika wa Nkomo of Azania Heritage International, who fought against Apartheid in South Africa for many years, also spoke to the Bangledeshi workers and to the crowd of Pittsburghers.
The Raging Grannies sang Bread and Roses on Freedom Corner. Recorded Saturday, October 16, 2004.
I went to the Pirate Gear Shop yesterday (10/13/04) and spent $27 on a fitted baseball cap. I wear 7 ½, in case you were thinking of buying me another hat. The cap is from the high end Major League Baseball “Cooperstown Label.” It is sold on the rack next to New Era Baseball Caps that cost the same amount. The label on the back of the tag reads – “American Needle – Since 1918” MADE IN BANGLADESH
This is a good time to point out that New Era Caps made in the USA also cost $27. and these fitted caps are not that much nicer than the FREE CAPS Made in China that baseball fans get for free when they come to a baseball game.
The SweatFree Baseball Campaign has launched a “survey” of Major League Baseball licensed apparel… we are going into retail stores of call kinds to record information on labels from the 2004 baseball season. This week we are focusing on playoff apparel. We will use our 2004 Survey of Major League Baseball Gear to try and identify specific groups of workers that sew our baseball gear. We are demanding Full Public Disclosure of factory locations and WAGE disclosure from our baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Help us complete the 2004 Survey of Major League Sweatshop Baseball Gear by gathering label information from retail outlets in your area. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 412-241-1339 for more information.
Solidarity, Kenneth Miller – Pittsburgh Anti-Sweatshop Community Alliance – “No Sweatshops Bucco!”
Mongezi has a Pittsburgh Pirate Baseball cap that was given out at PNC Park on July 3, 2004. The manufacture is "Blue Wave." The cap is made in China and it is given out for free at PNC Park.
Our disclosure demand is that we want to know where this factory is and how much the workers are being paid. That is WAGE DISCLOSURE - in China, it is probably the case that the workers are NOT receiving pay stubs with their checks. They don't know what they are being paid per hour, what they are being paid for overtime, what deductions are being taken from their checks. We are demanding CERTIFIED PAYROLL for the workers who sew Pirate Gear - we cannot have Pirate Gear sewn by workers who are denied their own basic wage information.
People are welcome to point out the sick irony of baseball's patriotism - celebrating "freedom" with the labor of workers denied their most fundamental rights. Patriotism - is the last refuge of a scoundrel. This is not a boycott - where your hat with pride Mongezi - we are labor unionists and fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates too.