There are about 5,000 factories in Bangladesh employing around 4 million garment workers. Most of those factories are probably as unsafe as the Rana Plaza building that collapsed in April, killing over 1,100 workers, and some of our own NYU apparel is made in those factories. The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is a legally-binding agreement between apparel companies, unions and labor rights NGOs in order to prevent any disasters like the one in Rana Plaza from happening again. The End Deathtraps campaign fought to make it a requirement for all brands making NYU apparel, or licensees, to sign onto this Accord by making the administration change NYU’s Labor Code of Conduct. Having the licensees sign onto this Accord would not strengthen the power of the Accord itself, but also empower the factory workers and improve their safety conditions.
The campaign’s first action of the semester was a letter delivery to the university administration, asking that they officially change our Labor Code of Conduct to require the licensees to sign onto the Accord. SLAM tried again to make the administration see the importance of making these changes by staging a die-in outside of the University Senate prior to its meeting. President John Sexton finally responded to our demands by saying that he would only make the Code of Conduct changes if the University Senate passed a resolution which ratified them. The resolution itself, however, would serve merely as a recommendation to the President to implement the agreed-on changes. Regardless, SLAM championed the proposed resolution for over a month, and was even invited to send a SLAM representative to the meeting which deliberated on the resolution, where it was passed. The day after the resolution passed, SLAM went carolling for workers’ rights outside President Sexton’s office, reminding him of his promise. The Code of Conduct changes have since been implemented, but work for the End Deathtraps campaign is far from over.